Sunday, 24 May 2020

BFJB solo - Part 2: danger lurking in the reeds

21 Simānum (6 June)

They all sleep very late after such long night, and over a late breakfast in the shady courtyard of Mannum-kīma-Adad's house, they go off to make preparations for the voyage.

Šerašer needs to retrieve his things from the alehouse. Iqīš-Sîn is sent with him carrying a hastily scrawled missive bearing his master's seal, mostly to make sure the mercenary is allowed back into the city with his arsenal.

Mannum-kīma-Adad wants the muḫḫūtum to look normal, so buys her a simple but elegant (and most importantly, neither tattered nor bloodstained) dress, and a takes her to a barber who forces a comb through her hair.

Afterwards Damiqtum visits her temple to show off the new gown to her colleagues. Mannum-kīma-Adad goes straight home, lest the emtum-priestess upbraid him for his behaviour towards her agent, or charge him with further duties.

Mannum-kīma-Adad feeds them all very well that evening, and they set out a bit after sunrise the next day.

[He's spent about 2 silver shekels in total -- probably more than he ought to have!]

Scene 3

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: setting out; d10=3, Altered
Alteration: Inquire / Balance

NPC List: emtum, Warad-Amurrum who owes grain, overseer, farmers, Ḫali-malik whom M may owe a great deal of oil

Threads: retrieve the missing grain

[Q: Does anything untoward happen as they begin? Unlikely (5+): O6 C7 - yes.
Q: What? Persecute / Friendship]

They've hardly walked 20 paces from Mannum-kīma-Adad's door when a slave rushes up to him bearing a tablet.

"Mannum-kīma-Adad! my master sends you this letter."

"I haven't time for his. I am going away on important business. Knock at my door and leave it with my slaves. I shall read it upon my return."

"I have instructions to hand it to you personally, and to see that you read it."

"Impertinent! bring it to my home, I say, or I'll have my slave thrash you right here in the street."

"I wouldn't do that. My master writes to say you owe him a goodly quantity of oil. You wouldn't want to add to the amount of your debt by mistreating me, would you?"

Mannum-kīma-Adad snatches the tablet from the slave's hand and reads it over furiously, then throws it to the ground and crushes it beneath his heel.

"There's my answer to this fatuous claim. Tell your master that if he wants to pursue this nonsense he can summon me before a judge. But remind him of the penalty for a false accusation! Now away with you, scoundrel!"

The slave turns and goes away. As soon as he's out of earshot, Mannum-kīma-Adad whispers to Iqīš-Sîn, "I don't owe Ḫali-malik anything, do I?"

Scene 4

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: through the countryside

NPC List: emtum (=high priestess), Warad-Amurrum who owes grain, overseer, farmers, Ḫali-malik (whom M may owe a great deal of oil)

Threads: retrieve the missing grain, deal with M's debt

Once out of the Adad gate (the southernmost of the 2 western gates) they follow the canals into the countryside, past cultivated fields, and reed-choked marshland.

[Q: Can they find transport? 50/50 (4+): O3 C2 - no, and...]

Mannum-kīma-Adad looks anxiously for boatman to take them down the canal, but there are none to be had. He curses his ill luck, for (according to a merchant friend of his), Warad-Amurrum's estate is situated 3 double-hours outside the city. At least following the canal they cannot get lost, but this is a longer distance than our poor tax collector has ever had to walk in his life!

[A bērum ("double-hour") is the twelfth part of a day, or the distance a person can travel in that time: 21600 cubits, or 10.8km (by ancient Babylonian reckoning -- 11.5km neo-Assyrian.

I rolled 1d6+2=6 hours of travel. They are traversing Cultivated Land per the RQ2 encounter tables, which gives a 75% chance of an encounter per hour. Even with 25% of the results being 'residents at work', there are probably too many combat encounters on the chart, but for a short journey it wasn't too bad.]

The first double hour passes without major incident, though not to hear Mannum-kīma-Adad tell it. Even Damiqtum, who had dreaded leaving the comforts of the city, finds his ceaseless carping about the heat and the dirt and the flies to be uncalled for. At one point she gets him to stop by pointing out a venomous serpent, which Šerašer has to shoo away using one of his javelins.

[1st encounter roll: snakes

A Mind check was needed to spot it - Damiqtum has the best in the party (6), so I just rolled for her: 6+1d6=10, success.

Šerašer made a Body check to fend it off; 1d6=6, auto success (but the second d6=5, not critical success.]

Whether or not the serpent was venomous, Damiqtum didn't rightly know; the important thing was that Mannum-kīma-Adad believed her. He is quiet and well-behaved from then on.

[2nd encounter roll: -
3rd encounter roll: Raiding trolls = pastoral Amorites 1d6+3=6 (stats as 1st level Pastoralists in the bestiary)

The Group’s Size and Condition (via Scarlet Heroes): Half of them are wounded

Each is armed with (1d6): 1 spear, 2 sling, 3 javelin, 4 club, 5 lasso, 6 throwing stick (unscathed: 1,6,4; wounded: 2,4,1)

The injured ones have each taken 1d6 damage: 3,5,6: two are in bad shape, the third has taken critical damage. 2d6 on the Body injury table gives him a broken arm.

Checking for surprise: the Amorites' stealth: Body 6+1d6=11, success. The PCs get a Mind check as an avoidance roll (Damiqtum's 6 again) 1d6=6, auto succeed, but no critical]

When they have travelled a double-hour from their run in with the dangerous serpent, Damiqtum suddenly bids them stop.

"What now?" says Mannum-kīma-Adad. "That look on your face -- don't tell me the goddess has a message for us."

"Don't be stupid. Look. About 30 cubits over that way -- something's moving in the reeds."

Šerašer gives Iqīš-Sîn one of his two javelins. "Don't throw it unless I tell you to. But make like you're going to."

[reaction roll 2d6=7, neutral. encounter range 2d6x10=50']

Three men stand upright, showing themselves above the reeds. They are clad in skins and carry rustic-looking weapons.

"Let us pass!" shouts Šerašer. "We have no quarrel with you."

[Q: Do they understand him? Unlikely (5+): O6 C9 - yes
He can make a Soul check to convince them to leave the party alone. 3+1d6=6, failure.]

The three raiders advance cautiously. They close a little over half the distance [Body x5 = 30'] before hefting their weapons: a spear, a cudgel, and a throwing stick.

[Per my usual, this first fight will be presented with way more mechanics than subsequent ones, not that this is likely to be a combat-heavy campaign. Before I start I will mention that evenly matched fights with competent fighters will tend to have a lot of parried attacks (like Runequest). The ones that do get through are pretty telling though, and damage results in a death-spiral (like T&T monsters); serious wounds are horrific.

Having played one fight, I realise that out-manoeuvring your opponents (i.e. to give them defence roll penalties) is really key. But there isn't really any of that here. Next time I'll know better.]

[Round 1]
As the spearman and club-man rush forward, the third man lets fly his throwing stick, which Šerašer easily blocks with his shield. The mercenary throws his javelin back at the man, wounding his shoulder. Iqīš-Sîn hurls his javelin as well, though it is unclear who was his target. The weapon sails off into the reeds and ends up flat on the ground.

The spearman runs straight at Šerašer. His low thrust does get under the shield, but Šerašer had let it; he slams the point downward into the earth and steps quickly onto the haft, breaking it.

The club-man takes a wild swing at Iqīš-Sîn with no effect. Damiqtum draws her dagger but hesitates, as she is a stranger to battle. Mannum-kīma-Adad does not hesitate at all -- he moves a safe distance back from the fray.

[Initiative is in descending order of Stat value used, unless anyone acts in haste. Pastoralists have Body 6.

The throwing stick attacked from 20':
-1 for range (twice the basic range of 10')
-1 for Šerašer's shield
so, effective Body of 4; Body 4 + 1d6 =6, miss.

Šerašer's javelin had no range penalty, but -1 for the opponent's hide armour.
effective body also 4; +1d6=9, a potential hit.
the Amorite made an Avoid roll, which was a natural 1. The second d6 was not also a 1, so it wasn't a critical failure.
Javelins do 2 damage, which come off the enemy's Body stat. He's thus reduced to Body 4.

Iqīš-Sîn has the same basic penalties (0 range, -1 armour) as Šerašer, but suffers a further -3 penalty for being Unskilled (the weapon tables list which Professions can use each one without penalty).
He can only hit on a natural 6, which he did not roll.

The 2 remaining pastoralists attack Šerašer & Iqīš-Sîn hand-to-hand. Movement gives -1 penalty per 5' crossed: -4 total.
The spearman has a further -1 for Šerašer's shield. He rolled a natural 1 (auto fail) anyways, and the second die the thrown was also a 1: Critical Failure. This either results in a GM-determined disaster or a simply 1 stat damage. A broken weapon seemed the less prosaic option.

The club attack needed to roll a 5 or 6 to hit Iqīš-Sîn; it didn't.]

[Round 2]
The club-man makes a few more ineffectual swings at Iqīš-Sîn. The man with the broken spear is not cowed in the slightest, and rains blows with the remaining half of his weapon down on Šerašer's shield, also to no avail. Šerašer draws the sword from his belt and lashes out, opening a deep wound in the man's outer thigh.

Iqīš-Sîn has his own cudgel in hand. Try as he might, he cannot strike the canny tent-dweller facing him. Damiqtum feels a rage welling up within her, not the divine rage from the touch of her Goddess, but ne nearly as frightening (and pleasing in its own way to the Lioness of Battle). She is a spitting, shrieking flurry of wild stabs and slashes, one of which draws a neat red line down the club-man's face.

[The club-man now has initiative. He rolls a hit (Body 6 + 1d6=10), but Iqīš-Sîn rolls his Body 4 +1d6=9, successfully Avoiding the attack. Had he not been proficient in use of the club, the -3 penalty would have caused the Avoid roll to fail.

I ruled the broken spear could be used as a club, but with a -2 penalty. His attack against Šerašer was (Body 6, -2 penalty, -1 shield) 3+1d6=8, a potential hit.
Šerašer rolled 5+d6=8, Avoiding the attack.

Šerašer's counterattack was a hit, and the spearman's Avoid roll was a natural 1. He didn't roll a critical failure, but did take 3 damage from the sword, reducing his Body to 3.

Iqīš-Sîn rolled a 1 for his attack, and fortunately did not roll a critical failure. A failed attack does not provoke an Avoid Check.

Damiqtum helped Iqīš-Sîn fight. She has the Furious talent, so gets to make 2 attacks, but at -1 & -2 to hit. She's already got -3 for her lack of skill with daggers, so she only hits on a natural 6. I threw a pair of dice and hoped... and  rolled boxcars! Neither manages a crit, though.
The Amorite now must make 2 avoid checks. There is a -1 penalty for each successive Avoid check in a round, so his 1st is normal, his 2nd at -1 (had not Iqīš-Sîn missed, the penalties would have been -1/-2).
The Amorite's dice come up a 6 (d6=3, no crit) and a 1 (d6=5, also no crit). He takes 2 damage from the dagger, reducing him to Body 4.]

[Round 3]
Šerašer stabs at his foe, but the man twists aside. The bronze blade slides along his flank, but does not bite through the thick goatskin he wears.

Iqīš-Sîn and the club-man bash at each other with their cudgels, but he crack of wood against wood is he only result.

The man who threw the throwing stick has been sidling up to the battle with a dagger in hand. He launches himself at Damiqtum, but she evades his blade. She slashes wildly back at him, but cannot land a hit either.

Šerašer's foe is feeling faint from blood loss, and his weakened swings barely connect with even the Elamite's shield.

[With all the Amorites injured, Šerašer now has the highest checked stat, so wins initiative. His attack roll is 7 exactly, but applying the -1 from his opponent's armour commutes it to a miss.

Iqīš-Sîn rolls a natural 6 (but no crit). The club-man's total is 4 (current Body) + 1d6 =8, so he avoids the attack. His counter attack total is 4+5=9, a hit, but Iqīš-Sîn's 4+3=7 avoid roll succeeds, successfully warding off the strike.

The throwing stick Amorite spent round 2 closing the distance (I left this off the narrative as no one was paying attention to him). This round he moved the last 5' to engage Damiqtum. His current Body is 4, and there's a -1 penalty for movement. 4-1+5, a hit, but Damiqtum's total was 3 Body + 5, Avoided. One of her Furious attacks succeeded (she rolls an awful lot of 6s; I can only assume that she truly is blessed by her Goddess), but the Amorite rolled a 7 on his Avoid check.

The spearman is in a bad way; current Body of 3 with a -2 penalty for the broken weapon and a further -1 for Šerašer's shield means he only hits on  natural 6 now; he didn't roll anything close o that.]

[Round 4]
Damiqtum takes a step back, then shrieks a short Sumerian incantation. Her attacker succumbs to the magic at once, and holds his dagger dumbly before him, unable to do more than back away.

Šerašer makes an upward stab at his opponent. He feels a slight resistance as the point of the blade pushes through the thick goatskin, then warmth as the blood gushes forth over his hand. The Amorite collapses; now dust shall sate his hunger, and clay be his food.

Iqīš-Sîn's club thuds hard against his opponent's shoulder. The riposte goes wild.

[Damiqtum decided to cast her Stun spell. This uses Soul, so with her Soul 6 she now has initiative. Her Soul check (6+1d6=9) succeeds, so the spell is cast successfully. The Amorite gets to make an Avoid roll with his own Soul 3. 3+1d6=5, failure. The spell's duration is based on the caster's current Soul, so the Amorite can only defend for the next 6 rounds.

Šerašer rolled a hit, his opponent failed his avoid roll. 3 damage drops the spearman's Body to 0. Normally this results in a roll on the Body Injury chart, but as a soldier, Šerašer has the Deadly Force professional talent which allows him to forego the roll and take the maximum result, so the Amorite is slain instantly.

Iqīš-Sîn hits the club-man who fails to Avoid, delivering another 2 damage. This will drop the Amorite to 2 Body. However, they both are acting on the same initiative segment (both having current Body of 4), so the damage isn't applied until after the Amorite makes his attack. He rolls badly however, and misses.

Things are looking rather grim for the Amorites now, so I put the question to the oracle--
Q: Do the pastoralists flee? Likely (3+): O5 C2 - yes, and...]

The Amorites see that they cannot prevail, and run off back to their fellows. Iqīš-Sîn takes one last swing at his departing opponent, but his cudgel just swishes through empty air [4+2, miss]. The party, unscathed by the battle thanks to the blessings of warlike Ištar, pause to catch their breath and drink from a waterskin whilst they watch the Amorites limping off into the distance.

[XP total is 300 total for defeating the 3 enemies, giving 100 each to the PCs who fought. Mannum-kīma-Adad earns 0 for cowering and doing nothing.]

When the Amorites have been lost from sight, they continue on their way. They pass by farmers in the fields [hour 4 encounter: residents at work] but pay them no mind. Further into the countryside they come upon a group of local spearmen [h5 - residents, militia]. They pause to tell them of the encounter with the Amorites. Mannum-kīma-Adad is effulgent in his praise of Šerašer's martial prowess which saved them all, so he says. He finds it prudent to omit mention of the muḫḫūtum's furor, and as usual forgets to mention the long-suffering Iqīš-Sîn at all.

next post: a mystery on the estate!

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