The heavy rains pelt Castle Hræfnmor steadily for four days. On the morning of the fifth day, they have finally ceased. The autumnal sun shines weakly through the breaks in the ever-present clouds. Jönnick, the major-domo, greets the castle's guests as they take their breakfast in the main hall.
"I am sorry my liege is still indisposed. The wizard's death has pained him more than the death of his eldest child. He may continue to be... unavailable for some time. But as to the matter of the wizard: I trust you've thoroughly examined his chambers?"
"That we have," responds Aldira.
"It is as we told you," says Théscine, "there's nothing dangerous within."
"There's very little that's even magical," adds Lycinia, "aside from the book he was reading when-- the book we found on his desk."
"I see," Jönnick replies thoughtfully. "Please forgive me for being blunt, but I'm an old soldier. I understand only bravery, and strategy, and steel. The priest in my home village always said that sorcery was never far from deviltry, and I'm afraid that his words have always stuck with me. These strange old books with their secrets and infernal whisperings make me decidedly uneasy. I would consider it a great favour if you could remove this book from the castle when you continue your journey."
"Oh, don't worry," says Miolla, "we were planning on it!"
Lycinia kicks her discreetly underneath the table.
Setup: continue travelling north to Chateau Pruduems
Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12, Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon, Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, Reverend Father de Molleré, Brother Mundlo, Zuhal B'thallit, centaur lizard, Jola, Sir Gaunet, Jönnick
threads: find Neldir & the book
remove zuhal's curse
[Castle Hræfnmor should probably have constituted its own scene in Mythic, separate from the general northward hexcrawl to Chateau Pruduems, but since nothing happened on the way there there seemed to be no point in changing scenes at that time.]
During their morning interview with Jönnick, the party announce their intention to continue north now that the storm has broken.
[Q: Are PCs advised against fording the river at the ruins? 50/50: 93, Exceptional Yes.
Jönnick advises them that they should try (1d10=)5 miles (2.5hexes) downstream.
Q: Is there any problem fording the river? Unlikely: 86, No.]
It is an uneventful (and muddy) journey northeast to the river and eventually across it. After a while the party sees a small square tower in the distance, with a wooden structure attached.
[the waystation is in good condition, though old. Q: Inhabited? Likely: 17, Yes.
The encounter table produces 20 brigands (F0) + their leader (F2). Reaction roll: 6, Indifferent
Q: Do they initiate contact? 50/50: 05, Exceptional Yes.
Q: What do they want?: Haggle/Intrigues. They are looking for mercenary work (they will be embroiled in the intrigues to the north; more on this later.)
Q: Does the encounter turn sour? 50/50: 03, exceptional yes.]
As they draw closer to the tower, the party see a detachment of a dozen soldiers ride out to meet them. [2d6=]Half their number stop a good distance off as the other six ride up to talk. The soldiers appear to be irregulars at best; their arms and armour are not in the best repair and they are generally unkempt and undisciplined. When they see the travellers and have a chance to size them up, they decide it looks like easy pickings, and suddenly gallop forward to attack.
[The Brigands win initiative. They attack with swords and lances, but none of them manage to land a hit. Miolla responds with a sleep spell. 11HD of creatures are put to sleep, which is all 6 bandits and 2 horses -- one of which is Théscine's.
Q: Do the rest notice what happened? 50/50: 45, Yes.]
The bandits fall into a slumber atop their horses, which stand around dumbly waiting for their riders' direction. Théscine notices her horse is also asleep. She spurs it roughly, and it awakens with an indignant snort.
Lycinia holds he sword over one of the sleeping bandits menacingly, and shouts out to the others, "Come no closer or your friends perish!"
[Morale roll=9, failure.] The rest of the bandits back down, and make a show of lowering their weapons. The party continue on their way, leaving the sleepers behind and making a wide detour around the tower.
[Q: Are the bandits dumb enough to attempt pursuit later? 50/50: 79, No.] The rest of the day passes without incident.
About midday the party arrives at Falby, a small hamlet (population 36). Here [according to the d30 Sandbox companion] there is no inn, no provisions offered for sale, in fact not much more than a handful of cottages. But they are sympathetic towards outsiders, so there is an unexpectedly warm welcome as the strangers arrive in town.
They talk to the village wise woman for a bit, who is very chatty and full of information about the feudal lands to the north. [for the 'sympathetic to outsiders' result, reaction dice will be the best 2 of 3d6; I roll 5,6,6: reaction=12
The PCs will get a rumour out of the conversation, so:
Bibliomancy: parte alia horrendus visu quassabat Etruscam / pinum et fumiferos infert / Mezentius ignis; at Messapus equum domitor, Neptunia proles, / rescindit vallum et scalas in moenia poscit.
Vergil, Aen. IX.521-4
(In another place Mezentius, horrible to behold, waves an etruscan pine and brings up his smoking firebrands, and Messapus, tamer of horses, Neptune's son, tears through the palisades and put his ladders against the walls)
Truth die=6; with +1 for her Reaction and a minimum roll of 1 for the second die, this rumour can have a final truth value no lower than 8, partly true. So this is more news than rumour.
Interpretation: war is brewing in the north between the feudal lords and ladies, if it hasn't already broken out.]
After bidding farewell to the friendly villagers, the party ride north to Chateau Pruduems. They are spotted nearly a mile off across the grassy plain, and a force of 12 heavy horse and a cloaked figure ride forth to meet them. They stop [3d6x10=]130' off from the party, and four horsemen detach from the group to ride up and speak with them. [Initial reaction roll is 12; people are really liking the elves lately.]
"What, ho!" cries one of the soldiers, "Bless me if it isn't a band of elves! What brings you so far from your home forest, my friends?"
"Sad business, I fear," responds Lycinia. "We are sent by the Elders of fair Feyalldra after a fugitive of our own kind, the thief Neldir. We have heard that he has come hence with evil intent, and even now plots against the lord of Chateau Pruduems."
The soldiers ride back to report to their captain. [It is now time to figure out the truth of the rumour about Neldir's plans. The truth die was 3 from earlier, +(1d6=)1=4: Completely false. Neldir is actually working with the villainous Count Rotres d'Estancbel.] The captain confers with her underlings for a minute. The party notice a sudden change in the soldiers' demeanour. Five of them ride forward a few paces and array themselves in a line. They slowly lower their lances, and at the captain's signal, gallop forth to attack.
11 heavy horse(wo)men (a-k): 6xf, 5xm: F0, AC 18 (Plate), Lance & light mace, ML9
sx CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC ML Equip
Ftr5 f 14 10 15 12 17 12 26 19 10 Plate&Shield, lance, longsword (+8att, +2dmg)
M-U4 f 10 15 13 17 10 10 14 15 8 Leather, shortsword, 2 wheelock pistols
Spells: Magic Missile, Shield, Ray of Enfeeblement, ESP
round 1. Initiative is tied; the order will be spells, lances, everything else.]
5 horsemen [a-e] charge with their lances, the Magic-User casts shield, the other soldiers will fan out a bit.
Miolla casts Sleep at the charging horsemen when they come within 60' [5HD affected]. The riders all doze off but are quickly awakened by the galloping horses [they will drop whatever they are holding on 1-4 on a d6 before reawakening]. Two of the riders drop their lances. They hurriedly begin to draw their maces, but miss their chance to attack.
The other three attack Miolla, Debinvarr, and Théscine. Miolla and Théscine evade the points of the lances as the soldiers thunder by. Debinvarr is hit, but only barely [he takes minimum damage, a roll of 1 (x2 for charging) results in merely 2 points]. Miolla swings her mace as her attacker [a] rides by, denting his faceplate and unhorsing him; he is killed instantly.
The captain orders 5 more soldiers [f-j] to charge as the first group turn about for another pass.
Aldira casts Sleep this time [8HD]; all 5 riders fall asleep as does one of their horses. One horse and rider [f] slow to a halt, fast asleep. The other riders are jolted awake, though two drop their lances. The other two make pathetic passes at Aldira and Lycinia [rolling 4 and 1]. Lycinia's counter attack [a 6] does not seem much more impressive. Aldira cast a spell so can't draw her weapon in time.
The first group charges for another pass as the second turns about. Lycinia casts sleep as they approach [16HD!]. All 4 riders and their horses slow and stop short of the party, awash with slumber.
The four left in the second group make another pass, attacking all but Aldira. The two with lances ride past Debinvarr and Lycinia without scoring a hit, and evade their counter-attacks. One of the others bears down on Théscine with a mace held high in the air, but Théscine is quicker. Her sword strikes true [5 damage, leaving her with 0hp] and her opponent slumps forward in her saddle, grievously wounded. Miolla swings wide, but is caught in the shoulder by her opponent's mace [for 3x2=6 damage, bringing her to 7hp].
A mêlée ensues on horseback between the party and the three soldiers left alive and awake [The captain, magic-user and extra soldier are still hanging back.] Miolla delivers a punishing blow with her mace [10 damage drops her opponent to -7hp], killing one soldier instantly. Lycinia, in frustration, presses her attack. She furiously stabs at her opponent's breastplate again and again. Each time her sword is turned aside, save the last, as the point slides up and underneath the woman's helm [9 damage drops her to -3hp], mortally wounding her.
[round 7. Morale check for the soldiers: 11, failure.] The last horseman in the mêlée spurs his horse and speeds away fro the fight. The captain looks on impassively, for a moment, then begins to withdraw with her two companions. She calls out the order to retreat, but the sleeping horsemen take no notice.
The party quickly confer, and decide that something must be amiss at Chateau Pruduems for such a friendly welcome to suddenly turn so hostile. They quickly spur their horses on, away from the castle.
Once they have put a few miles between themselves and the castle, they consult their map of the kingdom to plan their next move. After some deliberation, they decide to ride further north and try their luck at the Chateau l'Oret.
In all my years of gaming, I can't remember a time when anyone has ever used Sleep against charging horsemen, so I wasn't sure how to adjudicate it at first. Since the horsemen could be affected separately (having fewer hit dice), I also had to decide what would happen if only they fell asleep and not their mounts. According to the spell description, 'Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not'. Since being on a galloping horse is at least as jarring as being slapped, it seemed obvious that they wouldn't be asleep for long. Since they were professional cavalry, I decided they wouldn't be disoriented enough to risk falling out of the saddle. However, I deemed it likely they would drop anything they were holding; 1-4 on a d6. The horses were a more difficult matter. I actually went online and looked to see if horses sleep standing up. It turns out they do, though they sometimes lie down. Since Sleep is a combat spell, and affected creatures in mêlée combat don't instantly awaken, it seemed appropriate that the horses would just slow their pace and come to a stop, asleep. The sleeping soldiers on their backs would stay asleep too, as they are probably used to falling asleep in the saddle during a long march. Besides, the Sleep spell has always had a bit of the fairytale to it, so this image works for me perfectly.
There have been three combat encounters since I last computed XP, and I should add these up now before too many more pile up and make record keeping a chore. So:
No XP for the peasant mob, as they weren't going to fight anyway.
I wasn't sure about giving XP for Jola or not. The PCs foiled her evil plan, but she escaped completely unscathed; no one even got an attack against her. In the end, I decided to use her XP value (MU5 - 250xp) as a 'story award' for stopping the ritual and rescuing the soldier without destroying the village in the process.
bandits - 12xF0 (60xp) (the ones that stayed in the tower don't count)
soldiers - 10xF0 (50xp). The captain, M-U and 11th horseman didn't join the fight at all or even come into spell/missile range, so no XP will be awarded for them.
total: 485/5=97 xp each. Not a significant amount for anyone, but at least my bookkeeping is now up-to-date.