Wednesday 21 October 2015

Dragon Warriors solo - Part I: Homeward bound

Battle raged around Loys. But the din of clashing arms, blaring trumpets, bellowed commands, and the dying wails of men and horses sounded only distantly in the knight's ears, as his whole awareness was directed at the armoured foot soldier he now faced. The man's heavy sword crashed down upon his shield time and again, finally splintering it. Loys drew his long dagger with scarcely a second thought and pressed his fierce attack. Raising his heavy sword over his head, he brought it down with a crash upon the helm of his opponent, caving in the bright metal and the skull beneath.

Loys paused but briefly in his triumph, to call out 'Munjoie !' like the knights in the tales of old, then eagerly set upon his next foe...

* * *

"Wake up," said a rough voice. Loys opened his sleep-heavy eyes and saw his squire Reynaud leaning over him, shaking him bodily awake. "You were mumbling in your sleep again."

"I was there again," said Loys gravely. "Always in my dreams am I back 'pon that cursèd field of--"

"There's no time for that now. We've a problem aboard. The ship's mate would address us all."

"What now? I grow weary of this voyage..."

Dragon Warriors, the Players Guide, DW Bestiary
Mythic GME (eventually with my own variations)
rumours will be generated via bibliomancy, and their truth determined by my rumours tables
d30 Sandbox Companion

Notes: I started this a while ago, so the first 8 scenes were played out with a standard implementation of the Mythic GME. I'm also using the DW rules as written, except that spears are not only a 2-handed weapon (d6,4 when used one-handed). I am using the optional rules for permanent injuries on p. 208 and the Shock or Knockout rules (ibid.) I had expected to be using random weapon damage, but the static values bothered me less than I thought they might.]

Scene 1

Chaos: 5

Setup: sailing into port
Interrupt: Passion / Food - NPC negative - ship captain

NPC list: ship captain, sailors, passengers

1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home

The ship's mate summons all passengers and crew on deck, and addresses them. "Our captain -- the miserable oaf! -- has been sneaking into the stores at all hours of the day and night and helping himself to our provisions. Now we've nearly an empty hold! And it is three days yet before we reach a safe harbour in Ellesland."

[Q: Is there a mutiny? Likely: Yes.]

Angry murmurs run through the crowd. All eyes turn towards the captain. He goes white with fear, as he can sense what is coming next. In desperation he throws himself at the feet of the nearest knight, pleading for succour.

The knight, our good Loys, extends his hand towards the man, who eagerly clasps it. Loys helps the quivering captain to his feet. Emboldened by the protection of the gallant, armoured knight, he turns to address his crew.

"Mutiny! for such a trifle as this? Why I ought to have the lot of you flogged just for considering it!"

But the crowd grows still more angry. Shouts ring out, exhorting the others to violence, and it looks as though a riot is near at hand.

"Hold!" calls out Loys. [He needs a Looks roll to get the mob's attention: 2d10=14, just made it.] "Be ye men or animals? There is no call to stain the decks with blood. Use the Reason given ye by the Most High. There is a simpler solution and just."

So saying, Loys turns towards the captain once more, takes him bodily by the shoulders and propels him overboard with utmost swiftness. The assembled throng is silent for a moment, then erupts in a cheer.

"My distaste for gluttony is equal only to my hatred of sloth," says Loys to the ship's mate. "Sail we quickly for Ellesland!"

[Q: Can the PCs manage their own food intake to avoid starvation? 50/50: Yes.]

Scene 2

Chaos: 6

Setup: sailing into port
Altered: dropped off first available place

NPC list: ship captain, sailors, passengers

1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home

Most of the knights returning from the crusade hail from further south than Ebrac, and the new captain would rather not sail upriver and back. Loys says that the first available port will suit him and his squire just fine. Loys and Reynaud are rowed to shore with their scant possessions. They bid the sailors farewell and head up the rocky beach towards the fort they see in the distance.

[There are 4 possible places they could be dropped off on the coast of the d30 locations map: three forts and the lighthouse on the mainland. 1d4=second fort from the top, #22. They disembark at 1d6=pm, 1d12=noon

Q: Is there a good reception for brave knights returning from the Crusades? Likely: Exceptional Yes.]

Loys and Reynaud walk straight up to the rather bored-looking guards outside the gate. Loys announces the two of them, formally as is his wont. The sound of the word 'Crusade' works upon the guards as if it were a potent spell, for they suddenly snap to attention, the boredom in their demeanour replaced by respect, perhaps even admiration for the two weary travellers. Word is sent of their arrival to the fort's commander, who orders comfortable quarters prepared and invites the worthy knights to his table to dine with him and his captains.

The commander of the fort is an ageing knight named Sir Farman. He is all to eager to hear tell of the Holy Crusades, but it soon becomes evident that his guests are too war-weary to regale him with stories of blood and valour, and they are desirous to hear of home.

[Looks rolls (2d10, roll under attribute) with +3 bonus for Sir Farman's respect for the crusaders: both succeed, so neither let slip anything about the unfortunate circumstances in the crusade from which they are returning, nor is the commander any the wiser. They do manage to get a rumour out of him. And since he's so favourably disposed towards them, he'll give them his honest opinion of it, allowing one of the Truth dice to be rolled now.

Rumour: background - group - major - annoyance (-1)
bibliomancy: Sin autem ad pugnam exierint, nam saepe duobus / regibus incessit magno discordia motu
Verg. Georg. IV 67-8

("But if they have gone out to battle / for often between two kings proceeds discord...")]

"Things haven't changed much since you've been away," says the Sir Farman. "There are stories that wandering knights -- dogs and scoundrels all -- have been gallivanting around, and stirring up shit -- pardon my Beaulangue -- between the barons. But people are always saying such things, aren't they?" [The Truth Die came up 3.]

"We were hoping," says Loys, as pudding is being served, "that you might be able to help us get to the mainland. We let our ship's captain drop us off in the first available port before heading south, not realising we were closest to Pask island."

[Q: Can they get rowed to mainland? Likely: 98, Exceptional No.
Q: What does commander want in exchange, then? Persecute / Jealousy]

"Well," replies the old knight, thoughtfully, "I could order you a boat on the morrow. But I was hoping you might be able to help me with a trifling matter first. I am having rather an unhappy time with the commander of the fort on the northern horn of the island..."

[Quick rolls on the d30 Sandbox Companion's Adventure Generator tables--
goal: escort person
who? noble - a Lady
goal/reason: destiny]

"Sir Hardouin, for that be he, is entertaining a certain Lady of our mutual acquaintance, the fair Melisenda, in his keep. This sweet Lady, a most amiable widow, has been promised me in marriage by her brother and guardian. She sent word that her ship had delivered her to the wrong fort upon our little island, and, once she discovered the fort to be commanded by none other than her goodly cousin, she sent a runner to say she would break her journey there for some time and would come south presently. A fortnight went by, and she came not. A second fortnight, and still she would not come. Now a third fortnight is nearly passed. She sends no note, and repulses all my messengers. Please, O glorious knights, I implore you to go thither to find the fair Melisenda, and return her person to me."

"Anything for a fellow knight," says Loys, [Looks roll=3, success] concealing his disdain.

Scene 3

Chaos: 7

Setup: go to the other fort
Altered: something happens on the way

NPC list: Sir Farman, Sir Hardouin, Lady Melisenda

1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home
4. return Lady Melisanda to her bridegroom

Loys and Reynaud rise at dawn. They say their prayers, break their fast, and set out on the eight mile journey to the other fort on Sir Farman's errand.

[an encounter occurs after they have travelled (1d8=) 4 hexes.
Encounter: 1d12=5 Monks
Q: What are they doing? Travel / Outside]

As they are nearing the narrow neck of land connecting the northern reaches of the island to the western fields, Loys and Reynaud espy a comical procession, five jocular monks singing and laughing and almost dancing as they make their way towards the eastern shore.

"Ho! good friars," calls Loys, as he and Reynaud trot up to greet them. "I know of no monastery on this little isle. Have my squire and I been away at the Crusades for so long as to find one new-built?"

"Oh no, my son," chides the leader monk playfully, "It has been not nearly so long as that. We are but simple mendicant friars, enjoying this fine day given us by the Most High, and taking respite from endless journeys to do a little fishing."

"Fishing?" asks Reynaud, "Came ye in a boat."

"'Twere too miraculous had we come otherwise," laughs the monk.

"Could you take us back to the mainland?" asks Loys. [Looks roll, -2 difficulty, rolls:10+5, failure]

"Oh, no," says the monk with a grin, "I fear your iron rainments would sink our humble bark! But in truth we do not depart til after the Sabbath, for the fishing here is truly bountiful as the Grace of our Saviour."

[Can the PCs pick up a rumour? 50/50: 43, Yes.
library data - event - minor -gain (+1)]

"Besides," adds another monk, "when the tide is low, we wish to see if we can see the famous stone rising from the sea, as is reported by the ancient Selentine poet:

Est procul in pelago saxum spumantia contra
litora, quod tumidis submersum tunditur olim
fluctibus, hiberni condunt ubi sidera cori;
tranquillo silet, immotaque attollitur unda
campus, et apricis statio gratissima mergis."

[Verg. Aen. V, 124-8
Something to look for if PCs ever get a ship...]

"Well, God be with you," says Loys, and they go their separate ways. But once the monks have disappeared from sight, Loys turns to address Reynaud. "Lets take a small detour. If we can find where those mad monks let their boat, we can get off this ridiculous island!"

[They need to make a Track roll (1d20 lower than Perception) to pick up the monk's path from the boat. Loys has the better score (Pcn=6) but a roll of 14 fails.]

"I've no idea where they hid it," says Loys after a time.

"Let's to the fort then," replies Reynaud. "I'm sure Sir Farman will keep his word... if we're good little matchmakers!"

* * *

The rest of the walk to the fort passes without incident. When they arrive...

[Q: What's up at the fort? Carelessness / Allies: something's amiss with the Lady
Q: What? Carelessness / Suffering: she's injured - riding accident

Reaction roll for their reception at the fort (I've just been using the classic Traveller chart for reaction rolls): 12, super

Q: Can Loys get an interview with lady? Likely: Yes.]

...they are treated as honoured guests. They are given lodging and refreshments, and invited to dine at Sir Hardouin's table. They are introduced to, and quite taken with, the Lady Melisenda. The Lady seems much recovered from her fall from the saddle, but still walks with a slight limp. Loys is able to obtain a private interview that evening in her private apartments.

"You were sent by that little toad Farman," says she.

"Y--yes, my lady," stammers Loys in reply.

"So he's taken to sending knights as his errand boys! How many ways must I tell him I've changed my mind. Our arrangement is off."

relationship: neutral
mood: friendly

"Off?" asks Loys. "He is under the impression--"

"He is an obstinate fool who refuses to believe the truth. I've seen his demesne. It's small, and crumbling, and shabby -- like its master. I have elected to stay here to enjoy the company of my charming cousin, and when I have had my fill I shall travel on to the place of my choosing. And it shall not be the barracks of Sir Farman."

"But, my Lady, the marriage was contracted. What of your Duty...?"

"Think you I had any part in this matter? Any say at all? Whence comes duty upon my head? As I am not my brother's keeper, neither is my dear brother mine. I came hither to this island out of mordant curiosity only, to see what match my brother would foist upon me. Had Farman been handsome, or clever, or at all interesting I may've consented to the pairing. I stress, may have. You have met him, good sir. I ask you, is he any of these things?"

"Nay, my Lady. He is most certainly not."

"And even if he were, there are other considerations..."

"These being?"

[UNE: keeping the initial Prejudiced result: prejudiced-dislike-fame
Q: Fame? Overindulge / Outside]

"It is said he takes bribes from merchants and smugglers." [this counts as a rumour]

"My lady, let me be frank with you. My squire and I have just come back from the Crusade, and after a miserable sea voyage were put down here instead of the mainland. We have no loyalty to this Sir Farman; we merely agreed to his errand in the understanding he would get us off the island in return. If you say you will not go to him, then I consider this matter closed. And instead I would entreat you, good lady, to take pity on this pair of battle-weary soldiers, and arrange us passage across the bay."

[Q: Can/will she help? 50/50: Yes.
Q: Is there anything she wants in return? 50/50: Yes: Inform / Evil (carry a message to a person who happens to be evil.

d30 Adventure generator - Key NPC chart: noble, chart NPC1=earl
Location: 1d30=25, which is a village, so 24 which is the castle beside it]

"Good sir knight, there is nothing I would more happ'ly do than aid those brave souls who fought the infidel so far from home. But if you do go to the mainland, I would ask of you a small boon, that you bend your journey toward the castle of my friend, the Earl of Avincester, and take to him a small missive."

"It would be our honour to carry your message."

"Then you shall leave at first light. I shall have the men sail you round the western side of the island that none of Sir Farman's men see your passing."

Scene 4

Chaos: 6

Setup: travel

NPC list: Sir Farman, Sir Hardouin, Lady Melisenda, Earl of Avincester

1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home
4. take message to earl

True to her word, Lady Melisenda has had a small sailing ship prepared. At dawn its crew stand at the ready. Brief farewells are said, and the Lady gives Loys a letter stamped with her seal in black wax. They depart at once for the mainland.

[Weather roll (p. 214): d6=4, no change. Thus, a Breeze blows today; I had checked for the weather the day before to determine how far the monks could possibly have come in one day starting from the village, #19 on the map. A small cog can make 3d20 miles in 24 hours in this weather. 3d20=28 miles, so they cover 14 hexes by about 6pm.]

Sailing for a whole of the day, they arrive on the shore at eventide. A village [#26] is seen due south of their landing, from which a plume of black smoke rises high into the azure sky.

[Not the most action-packed of beginnings, but I was still finding my way around the rulebooks. Anyways, I prefer the 19th century novel approach to the Thrilling! Modern! Cinematic! adventure. I did truncate the dinner scenes, to be sure, but a good dinner/opera/ball sequence needs more important NPCs than I have at present.

In any case, the next few scenes will add some excitement into the mix. Stay ye tunèd, O Gentles!]


  1. I remain tuned, sir.

    But I also do hope that you have not abandoned the Traveller campaign completely and will eventually return to it.

    -- Jeff

    1. I haven't abandoned it. I left it fallow once before, I'm likely to do so again.But I'm definitely not through.