Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Village of Nulb

As part of my ongoing project to get my Hommlet campaign off the ground, I have modified and updated the map of Nulb from the T1-4 - The Temple of Elemental Evil campaign module.

First up is the basic map of Nulb with details as per the module...

The second map I have added in numbers for each of the other locations in the village...

I have pruposefully left out the name of the river and the directions to other villages on this map as I am not convinced by the labels on the original map from the module. I may add these in at a later date, as well as a small area map that details the module's immediate environs. This should include the whereabouts of Verbobonc, Hommlet, Nulb, the Moathouse and the Temple itself. The distances given between these locations as well as the names of the roads that lead to them are very confused between the original T1 and the subsequent T1-4 modules. I need to sit down and work out what will work best in my campaign. All of these will no doubt be renamed in my campaign as my campaign world is being worked out at the same time.

My next aim is to flesh out Nulb to the same extent that Hommlet was detailed within the original module, to make for a more believable village. This may be a little more difficult than I imagine from first impressions as I have to get the power play right between several factions within the village.

I have also almost finished tidying up the maps of the Moathouse and the dungeon from T1 but as these will contain GM specific keys on those maps I will refrain from publishing them on here - I have no desire to let my players know what lies in wait for them!

Finally, to flesh out the game world when it comes to actual play, I am thinking of ordering up a load of miniatures for it - there are many villager figures that I am interested in, as well as figures for the other denizens of the adventure. Whatever I decide upon, I will display them in their painted forms and where I got them from for you to take a look at.

Again, if anyne would like a copy of the slightly larger original versions (rather than these cut down JPGs) or the psd I am working from, drop me a line at littleodo at gmail dot com and I will be happy to forward them onto you.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

40 Knights in 40 Days (Part 2)

Here is the second conroi of Norman Knights. This time, the warriors are more heavily armoured but are still themed by keeping as many shields the same as possible - a cross motif. I have created these as milites - from the Latin/Roman term for foot soldier that morphed through the ages to represent any soldier when described in Latin. This second conroi is also a little short-changed in the manpower department due to the accident a few weeks back. As mentioned previously, two were damaged beyond repair but a few of the others that were broken in the fall were salvageable and have been re-glued, bent back into shape and then re-painted. Only a few of them are noticable.

First up is the commander of this conroi - a vavasseur. Vavasseur was really just another name for a squire or equivalent but I decided to use that rank as a leader type for a unit of milites. Rather than a spear or sword, I have put an axe into his hand to make him a little different. He is also unusual in that he has a cloak - not the normal attire of a Norman knight at war as cloaks could easily trap the sword arm, become entangled with a spear, or generally just get in the way of combat.

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

The second figure in this unit is the bannerman. I created the banner myself from an old bit of foil from around the top of a wine bottle. The wine was drunk a darn sight more quickly than it took to paint this figure! The motif on the banner is taken from the Bayeux Tapestry.

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

The third figure is a musician. It seems Normans would be most likely to have used horns to be heard over the din of battle rather than drums or cymbals that seem to have been used elsewhere by other armies of this period.

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

Before we get to the actual milites, here is another champion. As stated previously this was most likely not a formal position, but I like the idea of there being one particular hard nut in each unit.

 Miniature by Conquest Games

And here come the milites from the understaffed second conroi...

 Miniature by Crusader Miniatures

 Miniature by Crusader Miniatures

 Miniature by Crusader Miniatures

 Miniature by Perry Miniatures

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

Here is a group shot of the milites in action together...

And finally here are the command group...

Next week - the first conroi of Norman Knights.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Dragon Warriors 2:12

Return to the Hall of the Trickster (26th June 2013)

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

The Chair of the Spear (Day 36 – the early afternoon (116)

Sir Erich, Hillson the warlock, and Aethelfrith returned to the ship again to rest and relay their news to the rest of the party. In an attempt to escape the boredom of the last couple of days re-provisioning the ship and hiding in nervous anticipation of the reappearance of the Bloody Bitch, two of the crew decided they wanted to join the adventurers on their next foray back to the Trickster’s Hall. Nazir also determined that he wanted to join them for an outing too.

So, the small band of six headed to the buried halls to seek adventure. The sight of the illusionary hall wowed the two crew members and they made to wander off on their own to investigate until they were called back to heel by the rest of the party. Sir Erich warned the crewmen not to wander off and sit at the tables when the adventurers disappeared when they sat on the next chair, or they might end up lost to the world forever.

The party sat upon the chair one at a time and each suddenly appeared in the midst of a huge battle between men, elves, dwarfs and giants. They quickly formed a defensive ring but realised quite quickly that they were actually being ignored as the battle raged around them. This gave them time to look around but they could see nothing of interest to head towards as a goal. Suddenly they heard a huge wolf howl from the distant side of the battlefield, but nothing came of it so they continued surveying their environs.

After a few minutes, a natural break in the ebb and flow of the battle meant that a path began to clear between the combatants and down the avenue between the fighting warriors loped an enormous wolf. Sir Erich and Aethelfrith managed to leap aside as the wolf attacked the party but Nazir and Hillson were not so quick and were bowled over upon the wolf’s arrival. Sir Erich tried to grip his battle axe for a firm blow but it seemed to slip from his fingers. Aethelfrith attempted to draw his sword but was unable to do so for the same reason. Nazir and Hillson tried to ready their weapons but they also had the same problem. They all decided to re-sheathe their arms and fight the beast with their mailed fists.

The battle proved deadly for the fighters, each of them was mauled severely by the giant wolf, but each gave a few mighty blows in return that obviously harmed the beast. It was down to Hillson to heal each of the warriors in turn to prevent their imminent deaths. Aethelfrith, remembering some of his childhood tales, realised that this was Fenris; the great wolf from the battle that would end the world – Ragnarok. He shouted to the others to draw their weapons but to use them with their left hands – they could not grip them with their right hands as that was the hand that Tyr had lost when the great Fenris was captured and bound by the gods. This proved to be just the inspiration the party needed and they fought back with a vengeance; the great wolf was slain quite swiftly thereafter as the three fighters hewed mighty blows upon their foe. As the body of the wolf hit the ground, one of its huge canine teeth fell loose. Aethelfrith picked it up and began to examine it. As he touched the huge fang, the path through the battle began to form again and a shimmering mist appeared a short distance away. The party rushed towards it and as they made their way through the mist they found themselves back in the great hall covered in blood and hurting badly from their wounds.

The sight of the injured warriors proved a bit too much for the two crewmen who had been left behind and they asked to be taken back to the ship. The adventurers were also eager to return to the ship with them, so they all hobbled back to the cog for a good sleep, a hearty meal and the healing powers of the sorcerer.

The Chair of the Snowflake (Day 37 – morning)

When the four adventurers awoke the following day, they quickly collected some more foodstuffs from the ship’s stores and returned to hall under the mountain; this time without the two crew members who had told the rest of their ship mates the tales of the Trickster’s Hall and decided that adventuring was a bit too much for them.

This time, it was Aethelfrith who sat upon the chair first. One-by-one they were pulled through to another world. They immediately found themselves surrounded by trees and a couple of berry bushes; the whole vista covered in a huge blanket of deep snow. There was no way to get through the trees as they were so close together, and as a result the party could not figure out what the quest might be with this one, but they did however notice that it started to become perceptibly colder as each minute wore on. They decided to collect some wood and kindling to light a fire, but each time the flames began to lick at the dried material, they went out. Sir Erich suggested that they should build a snow shelter in the hope that it would keep them out of the worst of the cold, but the small shelter they were able to construct did nothing to abate the bitterness of the biting cold.

Aware that they needed to do something fast before they all froze to death Sir Erich and Aethelfrith grabbed a few sprigs of the red and white berries from the bushes nearby. They threw a few of each colour onto the fledgling fire, but it was only the white berries that seemed to have an, albeit minor, effect. The warriors then nibbled at the berries but only encountered a very bitter and foul tasting juice contained within. Sir Erich, who realised that maybe the only wood that would burn would be from the white bush, rushed off to cut a few armfuls of the branches. These he fed into the fire and the fire did start to smoulder gently. The smoke from the small fire rose directly up towards the sky but a small amount of it also began to form a hazy mist off to one side of the clearing. The party gathered more branches from the white berry bush and fed them into the now slowly growing conflagration. This led to the hazy smoke forming a more distinct doorway through which the party stepped carrying a few handfuls of the white berry bearing twigs. The party now had a sprig or two of mistletoe to add to the wolf tooth and eye that they had previously earned from their encounters through the other chairs.

The Chair of the Bow (Day 37 – around noon)
Buoyed up by their relatively easy victory in the last encounter, the party quickly decided to try the next chair in line. The bow carved into the back of it suggested either more combat or hunting, so the fighters readied their missile weapons before passing through to the other side.

They were greeted by a warm, sunny day in part of a large forest. However, when they looked around they noticed that their companions were not with them. After just a few moments all of them noticed unmistakeable deer tracks leading away from where they were stood. Aethelfrith tried shouting out at the top of his lungs to see if his companions were nearby but all that he succeeded in doing was making his throat sore.

They all decided to follow the tracks with bows (or spells in Hillson’s case) at the ready. Hillson and Aethelfrith managed to come upon their quarry within a short space of time, but Sir Erich and Nazir wandered around aimlessly following the tracks but finding no sign of their prey.

After he had crept up on the deer to get a closer shot, Aethelfrith let fly with one of his arrows and struck the deer in the rump. This caused the deer to turn at bay and charge him down.

Meanwhile, Hillson tried to creep ever closer but never seemed to gain upon his quarry. Sir Erich also seemed to be losing track of his prey but decided to carry on following the path all the same.

Nazir soon spotted a grizzled and bearded old man trailing him. He made to call out to the old man but was shot at for his troubles. The arrow hit him but failed to penetrate his armour. He charged at the old man, drawing his morning star as he did so.

Aethelfrith took the charge of the deer (whose horns did not penetrate his armour) and struck it with his magical short sword, again causing a wound.

Meanwhile Hillson kept on stalking his prey but it kept getting further away from him. Sir Erich began to feel a little uneasy, as if he was being stalked, so he holed up in a tree to see who might be following him. Hillson’s prey seemed to disappear from sight, so he sat down on the forest floor to see if his prey would come to him.

Nazir, was charged down in return by the hunter and received a nasty sword wound to his side just after he struck the huntsman.

Aethelfrith, being a hunter himself back in the real world, thought that there was something unusual about the deer confronting him. Deer just did not act in that way. He stepped back from the melee and assumed a defensive stance. The deer backed away a few steps and did the same. Aethelfrith then put his weapon away. The deer then faded away to become Nazir – the illusion had been broken. As Nazir’s animal form finally faded, the antlers that were on his head (from Aethelfrith’s point of view) dropped to the floor. Aetheflrith picked them up.

Whilst Hillson waited for his quarry to turn up and Sir Erich looked about for his stalker, they too realised the illusion and both faded back to their original bodies. Sir Erich picked up the antlers that were now at his feet.

A haze started to form not far from the adventurers, so they all stepped through it and back into the Trickster’s Hall.

As a couple of them had taken a few blows in the illusory world, they decided to call it a day and headed back to the ship for another rest and round of healing from the sorcerer.

The Chair of the Boar (Day 38 – morning)

After a refreshing sleep and some decent victuals the four adventurers set off again. They mentioned to their companions still on the boat that they were now close to cracking the entire Trickster’s Hall conundrum and would probably only need a further day to resolve it completely. They would then set sail in the hope that this interlude had put off all manner of pursuit by the Bloody Bitch and her gang of pirates. They totted up their prizes thusly…

Well chair                    eye
Spear chair                  wolf canine
Snowflake chair          sprig of mistletoe
Bow chair                    rack of antlers
Boar chair                    to be investigated
Lyre chair                    to be investigated
Flame chair                  they know that the last person to sit upon it got burnt

This time upon their return to the hall, they made their way straight back towards the Boar chair. Sir Erich immediately sat upon it, closely followed by Aetheflrith, Nazir and Hillson.

As soon as Sir Ercih stepped through to the other world he was immediately confronted by a beautiful woman in a chainmail hauberk, with a shield and spear. She was standing before a chained up golden-coloured giant boar that was gnashing its tusks. She spoke to Sir Erich in the ancient tongue that the party had heard previously but he found that he could understand perfectly what she was saying to him. She asked him whether he would like to face the wild boar or her in mortal combat to test his bravery, or would he rather leave? Sir Erich, being the chivalrous type decided it was best he went toe-to-toe with the great golden boar. The woman shouted a command, the chain binding the great beast slipped away and the golden boar charged at his adversary just as Hillson and the rest of the companions arrived on the scene one by one.

The fight with the boar was ferocious and went on for several minutes, each combatant striking the other in turn, but eventually the superior strength and virility of the wild boar took its toll on Sir Erich and he collapsed to the ground with a final drive of the boar’s tusks into his stomach. When he had let out his last breath, a raven fluttered down from above and landed on his chest.

Aethelfrith’s blood by now had grown hot and he wished to avenge his comrade. The armoured woman bade him whether he would rather fight her, the boar, take his leave or honour his companion? He was sorely tempted to just charge down the woman and beat her senseless but his valour got the better of his temper and he asked whether he could join the fight right away. The woman smiled and said that that boar would be healed before he fought his next opponent. Aethelfrith said that would make no difference and charged into battle. The boar glowed faintly for a few seconds and did the same.

Aethelfrith’s fight went the same way as Sir Erich’s. He matched the boar blow for blow, and blocked many of its attacks with his superior shield craft, but eventually he too was taken down by the great golden boar’s tusks. Again, as his last breath left him, a raven fluttered down and landed upon his chest.

Nazir, seeing his comrades slain before his eyes swore an oath to avenge them. The lady asked again whether he would like to test his bravery and skills against the boar or the woman herself, honour the dead, or leave. Nazir’s response was “I will not fight the boar. I will take on its master - You!”

The boar was pulled back and magically re-chained as the warrior woman took up a combat position. The fight again only lasted a minute or two. Nazir could only match the warrior woman for a short time before her superior skill began to tell. He too crumpled to the floor, whereupon a raven landed upon his chest.

With the final warrior vanquished the woman turned to Hillson and asked him the same question. Realising he could not defeat either the warrior woman or the boar in mortal combat he realised he must think his way out of this predicament. He chose to honour his dead comrades.

The warrior woman bade him to pick up his colleagues’ bodies and place them onto the pyre that had just appeared nearby. He did as he was bid and then she handed him a torch. Upon her command he lit the pyre, but to his surprise the fire did not consume his comrades’ bodies. Instead the ravens sat upon their chests until the flames had died down and then the three warriors arose as if from a deep slumber.

Once the warriors had come to grips with their near death experience the warrior woman strode up to them and applauded them for their bravery and honour. She handed each of the warriors a small golden spear each and then ushered everyone through the now familiar smoky gateway back to the Trickster’s Hall.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

As far as I can tell, Roger Waters did not have Vogon Constructor Fleets and Bowls of Petunias in mind when he wrote the song on his best selling album. However, as a fan of Douglas Adams and the H2G2 series of radio plays, books and TV series (I didn't get around to seeing the film funnily enough - one for DVD methinks) I snapped up these miniatures by Denizen when they first came out way back when.

I just finished painting them today and thought I would throw them up onto the blog for all to see. These were/are a small range of figures and only included the five main Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy characters and some kind of Space Beagle (which I did not buy at the time) when I last looked, but that may very well have changed since then.

Here are the Hitch Hikers ...

First up is Arthur Dent sans sandwich...

Second up is Ford Prefect - thumb outstretched in the hope of attracting the attention of passing space traffic...

Marvin the Paranoid Android, brain the size of a planet but only used to fetch the tea and open doors...

Tricia McMillan - or Trillian as she is known. Ditched Arthur Dent for Zaphod Beeblebrox as she would rather be hanging around a black hole than the dole queue...

Zaphod Beeblebrox with his extra head - not to be confused with Jake the Peg with his extra leg...

And finally the whole ensemble...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

40 Knights in 40 Days

Well, I started to finish those pesky Norman Knights at long last this weekend. I started with 40 Knights but a slight accident saw two of them slip off the painting tray and break irrevocably. So, I am now two men short for my army. I will probably add a pack or two to my order to make up the numbers when I pick up the foot contingents in the near future, and maybe do a step-by-step painting guide with them (something I always forget to do when I am painting large units - sigh). I was going to try to complete one a day over 40 days but that plan has flown out of the window as my painting was so sporadic. What I will do instead is put up a conroi of 10 every week. This will force me to get my butt in gear and get them completed by the middle of next month and enable me to clear down the paint station (and thus the dining room table!) and so therefore please the other half :-)

For my first unit I decided to complete the pueri led by a sergens. The pueri were the 'boys' - often well-drilled but often untested in battle. These could have been the squires of the more experienced knights, or maybe just some of those knights who were elevated to knighthood only recently.

The Bishop Odo led a unit of pueri at the Battle of Hastings, as well attested by the scene on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

First up is the leader of this reduced conroi (9 instead of 10 at the moment) - a sergens (or sergeant in modern day parlance)...

 Miniature by Conquest Games
He is wearing  scale mail and carrying a round shield, as well as sporting a baculum (or club). This club has been presumed to be a continuation of the use of a vine stick - the vitis - as carried by a centurion of the legions

Here is the banner bearer of the conroi. It is doubtful that the banner would have been as large as this but hey it looks good and can be easily seen upon the tabletop.

 Miniature by Conquest Games

Next up is the unit's musician. He would blow the horn to make sure orders were heard above the din of battle.

 Miniature by Conquest Games

For each unit I have created a champion. I doubt this position ever formally existed, but I am sure that the leaders of each conroi would be likely to have the toughest warriors beside them to inspire courage into the rest of the unit. I have armed him with a large axe to separate him from the crowd. He too sports a round shield like the sergens. The evidence suggests that kite shields has replaced round shields as the main form of protection before the advent of the Battle of Hastings. However, if you have already broken your main kite shield in combat, a round shield may have been easier to make at short notice (historical re-enactors may be able to verify this statement). All weaponry from this time was expensive, so it is also possible that this shield could have been handed down by an elder brother or more senior knight after he had bought his first kite shield.

 Miniature by Conquest Games

 Now here come the pueri themselves - half-a-dozen Norman striplings gagging for a fight. I have tried to keep them looking like a unit by making as many of the shields the same or as similar as possible - in this case I have gone for a red and yellow striped theme. It is doubtful again that this would have happened at the time of Hastings but it looks good when the miniatures are deployed together on the table. I am no great shakes at painting devices, so I used decals (LBMS and Flags of War) for these figures.

 Miniature by Crusader Miniatures

 Miniature by Crusader Miniatures

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

 Miniature by Gripping Beast

 Miniature by ConquestGames

Finally I have a couple of group shots from within the unit itself. Here are the command...

An here are the pueri...

Next week should be the first unit of miles.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

My first foray into Savage Worlds

Our Dragon Warriors GM was not able to make the session last night as he was on holiday, so one of the others stepped up to the plate to take on the role for just one night. He brought along a game I had heard about before but never tried - Savage Worlds. He gave each of us a pregenerated character and away we went. The rules seem to be quite simple but absorbing enough to make a challenging game, and I especially like the idea of the unlimited roll-ups on dice rolls - that way nothing is too tough to take down. Anyway, this is an account of last night's session - I think it was part of a tailor-made adventure rather than a homebrew one (judging by the source material the GM was using), but never-the-less it was enjoyable. I would like to travel back to the Savage Worlds again some day soon...

Savage Worlds: 19th June 2013

The Adventurers
Belinda Warmheart – Human Priestess of Regia
Female Elfin Warrior
Female Half-Folk Thief
Male Dwarf Fighter
Male Human Fighter (Knight)

Potted History

Eighteen years ago, due to pressures on land within the duchy, humans started to expand eastwards into orc territory, setting up farmsteads and villages to exploit the bounteous riches of the eastern lands. This caused friction and the two nations went to war. After three years of strife, both sides had fought to a standstill but the old king managed to negotiate a settlement which marked out permanent borders for the two nations. This treaty prospered for ten years, with both peoples living peacefully side-by-side. However, when the old king died five years ago, his lazy, hedonistic son took over the throne and things started to turn sour again between the humans and the orcs. The reign of the new king unfortunately coincided with a severe drought and pestilence followed in its wake. Some say that this was caused by the anger of the gods at seeing such a wastrel upon the throne of the kingdom. Whatever the reason for the hardships, both sides blamed each other and friction mounted in the region again.

The Unicorn Tavern, Loxlyn, Duchy of Loxlyn

The adventurers had been lured to the Duchy with its promises of adventure and riches in the ruins of the eastern lands. Yes, there may be some danger from the orcs, but the rewards were deemed to outweigh the risks. We join the small party of companions in the main tavern in the city of Loxlyn, the capital of the Duchy.

A pounding at the door warned the denizens of the inn that someone official was about to enter; no normal person would knock before entering a public tavern. All illegal vices were quickly stowed into packs and pockets and convivial conversations were struck up as three guardsmen of the watch and a local town councillor entered the main room.

“Hear ye!” the councillor exclaimed, “all persons not native to Loxlyn must report to the keep at two of the clock upon pain of imprisonment. Native townsfolk are to return to their homes and await further instruction. By order of the Baron”

The councillor then turned on his heels and strutted from the tavern. As he exited through the door, the pounding of hooves could be heard above the clamour that erupted within the common room of the Unicorn. The half-folk thief managed to snatch a glimpse through the window of the tavern of a man-at-arms galloping away towards the West Gate. The councillor appeared to be heading down the street to the next tavern.

The party returned to their drinks and dice games as there were still two hours before they were required to report to the castle. All were curious as to why their presence was requested but the omens did not bode well.

The Keep, Loxlyn, Duchy of Loxlyn

The party set off for the keep in good time but the way was thronged with guardsmen toing and froing and generally preparing for something important. They arrived at the keep at the allotted time and they were ushered into the main audience chamber. Dozens of out-of-towners were gathered before the councillor’s table and a well-guarded scribe took note of all that occurred in the room. The half-folk thief tried her hand at picking a few pockets as the chamber was so well crowded and the purses on show offered so much temptation, but her actions were thwarted at the first attempt by the brawny hand of a city watchman clamping firmly upon her shoulder. He warned her to be careful or it may be the gaol that she would be visiting if she was caught again.

With a ruffle of expensive robes and the clatter of hob-nailed boots, the Baron Loxlyn himself arrived in the hall with his bodyguard.

“I’ll keep this brief,” he said, “orcs are rampaging across the border, burning farmsteads and villages as they go. All portable goods are being stolen and the women and children are being taken. The menfolk are being slaughtered. I have need of doughty warriors to stem the tide of reivers whilst I ride to the king for aid. Some of you will no doubt be of stout heart and will volunteer your services … others of a more peaceful nature are urged to return west to your homelands. The city can withstand a siege against orcs, but the extra mouths from the refugees pouring in will need to be fed, which means that those not native to these lands must fend for themselves. I urge those people to swiftly collect their possessions and leave the city. The rest, who are of braver heart, I urge you to sign your names with my scribe who will allocate you to your region to defend. You will be rewarded upon my return after the orcs have been pushed back beyond the borders. Any questions? No? Then I’ll bid you good hunting.”

The baron turned on his heels and strode again from the chamber. A few moments later the clatter of hooves from a few dozen horses resounded sharply from the cobblestones and the baron took off westwards in the hope of convincing the king that aid was needed to rescue the duchy.

The Adventure Begins

As luck would have it, all of the adventurers were placed in the same fire team and allocated the village of Roxbury, five days’ travel south-eastwards, as their location to make safe. Their task was to travel to the village, organise its security and escort any of its inhabitants that wished to leave the area back to the city. They would be supplied with ten days’ trail rations, a mule to carry their equipment and a warrant of authority from the baron to give them legitimacy.

Rather than hang around waiting any longer, the brave party decided to leave straight away, even though it was late afternoon. The sooner they got into action the sooner they would get their reward they surmised.

The knight led the way, followed by the elfin warrior, and the priestess led the mule upon which the half-folk thief was seated. The doughty dwarf fighter brought up the rear; his rather overpowering personal hygiene issues meant it best he be downwind from the party rather than the other way around.

The party travelled for three days through the dusty, dry scrublands. On their way they called at every farmstead they could see from the road and warned the inhabitants of the encroaching dangers. All the farmers were happy to see the adventurers but had already been pre-warned by the militia a few days earlier and were almost ready to leave their homes and head towards the city.

Just after the party had left an isolated farmstead on the afternoon of the fourth day of their travels the half-folk thief spotted unusual movements to the side of the track way. Without a second’s warning, three orcs burst from the undergrowth and flung their javelins at the passing party. Two of the javelins flew wide of their marks but the third had to be parried by the knight at the head of the column. The knight spurred himself into the action and bore down on the two orcs nearest the front of the column. The half-folk thief leaped from her saddle and ran towards the action. The priestess tried to calm the mule as the dwarf loped past as fast as his legs could carry him.

The elfin warrior, quick off the mark, shot an arrow through the eye of one of the knight’s assailants and the cleric managed to confuse one of the orcs with her pacifistic rhetoric which allowed the half-folk thief in to make a stab at the second orc and kill it. The dwarf finally made it to the fight but not before the little thief had managed to stab the final orc. In the distance, the party saw a fourth member of the orc raiding party lope off on a large beast. On Belinda’s request, the party placed the bodies in a heap in accordance with their funereal rites but unfortunately they could not light a pyre for them due to the lack of wood.

At midnight the party were woken to the sounds of howling in the distance but they were not bothered by any further encounters during the rest of the night except for the quite sudden appearance of a constant shower of light rain; most unusual considering the years of drought they had been experiencing in these parts.

The following day, the party found themselves soaked through, so rose early and carried on with their journey towards the village of Roxbury. The rain did not let up, in fact it got heavier as the day wore on, and the normally parched, hard-baked earth started to turn muddy. They camped for the night in a small copse of trees, but the branches, denuded of leaves by the drought were unable to stop the rain from soaking them through. In the distance, the faint sounds of drumming could be heard. The orcs were mustering for war.

The Village of Roxbury

The sixth day saw the group of adventurers back on the road early again. A massive downpour around four o’clock in the morning saw them thoroughly soaked through. They ate a meagre meal of cold trail rations because the wood they collected was now far too wet to be lit to provide a small fire.

After just a few more hours trudging through the rain-soaked countryside they finally topped a small rise and spotted the fortified village of Roxbury in the distance. As they advanced along the track towards the palisaded village they spotted that the fields were churned mud but, dotted here and there, the first buds of a harvest could be seen sprouting from the earth.

Smoke could be seen coming from within the enclosure, but the not the black smoke of ruination. They crossed the causeway over the shallow ditch that surrounded the village and made their way to the entrance. The wooden gates to the village remained ajar, but being polite the knight knocked on them and shouted for attention. No response came. Looking at each other for reassurance, the party advanced through the gates, pushing them wide enough so that the pack mule could fit through it and closed it to behind them. Ahead of them they could see the forge in the blacksmith’s hut had been banked down and all his tools were present. A few more shouts of greeting were again unanswered. Belinda, the priest, climbed up the guard tower by the gate and looked around the village and the horizon. Nothing could be seen except for the blue smoke of wood fires burning in hearths, which emerged from the chimneys of several of the buildings.

Leaving Belinda to keep watch, the rest of the party scouted through the rest of the village. The dwarf made it no further than the blacksmith’s forge, where he proceeded to strip off his sodden clothes and dry them on the racks within the hut. The rest slowly advanced through the rest of the village where they finally congregated upon the church at the centre. Sounds of worship came from within, so the knight pushed open the doors and made his way in. Meanwhile, Belinda had spotted from her vantage point that there were three major gaps in the palisade walls and the gates at the far end of the village were wide open; so much for security in Roxbury.

In the church, the 30 or so parishioners were just winding up their morning prayers. The priest smiled at the newcomers and bade them take seats at the pews at the back of the church whilst he finished his service. When the service was over, the headman and his council of elders approached the newcomers and asked them to join him in the great hall. Belinda saw them exit the church, climbed down from the watch tower and made towards the crowd. She went to collect the dwarf on the way, whose modesty was only protected by his long beard. He would join them presently he motioned to her.

In the great hall, the village council discussed the impending orc invasion with the adventurers, but they did not seem at all concerned; and why not when only a couple of weeks back they had traded peacefully with the orcs. After a bit more wrangling they agreed to step up security and would follow the party’s advice by collecting wood to bridge the gaps in the palisade walls.

Night Raiders

The afternoon was spent successfully chopping down and collecting some fine trees that would fill the gaps in the palisade. The work party toiled hard and managed to get everything back into the village by nightfall; they would patch the fence the following day. That night it was decided that the whole village would sleep in the great hall whilst the party patrolled the perimeter, watching out for enemy incursions.

Belinda made her way to each gap in the palisade, and placed fresh sand and fleeces on the floor so that if anyone crept through the gaps then their footprints would be spotted and alert the night patrols to their presence. The knight also tied a rope across each entrance to stop any orc charges in their tracks. Both of the gates were then slammed shut and barred.

At nightfall, the two companions resumed their patrols. All was quiet for an hour or two and there was no sign of any furtive incursions. Suddenly a loud crash was heard at the eastern gate. The two companions raced to that end of the village, the knight drawing his sword as he ran whist Belinda the priest hurried to the great hall to awaken the village.

After two or three more heavy strokes, the gates flew off their hinges and a huge ogre stepped in swinging his mighty oaken club. The knight faced down his enormous foe but the gap behind the ogre allowed two more orcs to steal in through the gates. The knight traded blows with the ogre but neither was injured; the knight moved too fast for the brute to hit him but the ogre’s hide was so thick it was difficult to pierce his hide even when slashed with a sword.

The two orcs made their way up to support their great comrade but by then the party had been roused and had joined the melee. The stout dwarf warrior strode straight into the combat with his hated foes and smote one of them with his great axe. Belinda managed to confuse the ogre enough with her pacifist rhetoric that the elfin warrior pierced his hide with a shaft from her bow as he stood dumbfounded. The second orc made to break away towards the village to cause havoc there but he was stopped in his tracks by the knight’s sword. The ogre, meanwhile, traded blows with the rest of the party but the arrows of the Elf and the axe of the Dwarf found no way through his thick hide. It was left to the knight to offer up the coup de grace. The ogre wobbled and then sank to its knees before toppling over face first into the mud.

Belinda raced past the combat towards the gates to check if any more orcs were in the vicinity, but the sight of their ogre companion biting the dust saw them retreat hastily. The priestess taunted them for their cowardice and this seemed to make them run away faster.

Grabbing a torch each, the party strode outside of the palisade to see if they could do something about the broken gate, whilst the villagers dragged the corpses of the orcs and ogre outside and place them in a heap. Belinda then spotted a totem that the retreating orcs must have left. It was a war totem of the Fleshmen Tribe; eaters of the dead. The totem was covered in the feathers, skulls and bones arranged as a declaration of extermination. Belinda asked that the bodies be treated with full honours as warriors and burnt in the orc funereal style; and this task was accomplished.

Night Raiders

Everyone retreated to the great hall after repairing the gates as best they could and started to heatedly discuss the current situation. The village elder mentioned that this tribe was indeed the tribe that they had traded with not two weeks back and all seemed fine and dandy back then. He couldn’t understand the change of heart in the orcs’ behaviour. As he talked about the possible short-comings of his people the knight noticed two of the villagers, the Hale brothers – notorious rabble rousers – were looking a bit shifty and were making ready to leave. As they made a run for it, one was caught quite swiftly by the knight but the second was finally jumped upon by the half-folk thief as he tried to make his escape over the palisade.

They were both tied up and brought in front of the village council where they were made to confess what they had done. Just before the last time the orcs came to trade, they had made a pact with the Reaper (an old world god of nature) to grant them a bountiful harvest and plentiful rain. The only proviso was that the Reaper needed a blood sacrifice to work his weather making. The Hale brothers captured and sacrificed the orc chieftain’s sons when they had come to trade a few days later. The magic worked and brought the rains, but the death of his sons also brought the wrath of the orc chieftain.

Under direction from Belinda, the party then took down the totem, redressed it with signs for a parley and placed it back in the earth facing where the orcs had retreated to. As they did this they noticed that the horizon was glowing with the fires of destruction; the orcs were true to their word – they were wreaking vengeance on all the human settlers in the area.


The following morning an orc war-horn was winded. The party and villagers flocked to the gates and were confronted with the sight of more than 200 orc warriors and their ogre companions. The party stepped forward to parley with the orc chieftain. The only reason he had not attacked the village at first light was because of the symbols on the totem.

The orc chieftain voiced his threats and gave the party just a few minutes to prepare themselves for death. However, the knight using his most loquacious rhetoric managed to convince the orc chieftain that the perpetrators of the murder of his sons had been caught. He promised to hand them over in return for peace with the rest of the village. The knight said he could do this as he was the highest authority in the land around here and his word would stay the hand of retribution from the baron who was no doubt rapidly approaching with a huge force of men-at-arms at this precise moment.

The orc chieftain thought this through for a moment and agreed the terms. He left with the Hale brothers and the promise to return to his own lands whilst ceasing further hostilities against the other human settlers in the area.

The Baron of Loxlyn arrived at the village a few days later. The gates had been fixed and the gaps in the palisades had been filled. Village life had returned to normal and there was a good crop on the way. He was impressed by what he had seen and what the villagers had said about the adventurers. He stood down his army, thus reducing the risk of further bloodshed and thanked the party profusely. He invited them back to the city to choose their reward … within reason!