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.

Denouement

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!

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