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Dramatis Personæ

Wherein the Warband Enters Kelmarane, Splits Up and Chaos Ensues…

  • From the ambush site, the warband proceed toward the village of Kelmarane. With Zistral lurking out of sight, the rest of them climb up the rather sheer hill that allows them access to the rear of the village which is close to rundown church or temple. At this point, Lan-Fan and Thorn break off, intent on causing chaos further away from the temple, while Zistral, upon seeing his companions complete the ascent, swings wide and begins an approach toward the front gate.
  • Upon their entrance into the temple, Arn, Brum, and Finn can hear the sound of chanting but proceed forward. Upon reaching the larger portion of the ‘church,’ they discover five men upon prayer rugs; attempts to sneak by these men fail and the leader greets them ominously. To their horror, the leader’s flesh seems to burn away, revealing a hideous undead monster; the sight of this causes Arn to freeze up in terror, but Brum and Finn fight through the fear as the other creatures are also revealed to be undead beasts. A fierce fight ensues that leaves Arn unconscious and grievously injured but all of the undead destroyed…
  • Thorn leads Lan-Fan deeper into the village, intent on locating and freeing any captives. Their stealthy search leads them to a building filled with cages that hold people; bored gnoll guards slowly patrol the area or lounge in rickety chairs. Thinking quickly, the two climb to the roof – there is a convenient hole in the ceiling that they can use – and hash a very quick play. Lan-Fan uses the chain on her kusarigama to wrap around the neck of a guard, then jumps down; with the chain hanging over a rafter, her body weight easily yanks the gnoll up into the air. Thorn uses this distraction to spring down and engage the other gnoll in the room. In seconds, both of the creatures are dead which allows Thorn to find the keys for the cages. Unfortunately, it sounds as if reinforcements are moments away!
  • Zistral approaches the main entrance which naturally causes a great deal of consternation for the gnoll guards. They summon their leader – a minotaur – and he stares at Zistral for some time before issuing instructions. To Zistral’s surprise, the gnoll’s open up a barn and a manticore emerges. It roars (which Zistral returns with his own cries), then takes to the air. Hurling its tail spines at the centaur (who dodges), it circles for a time, clearly seeking an opportunity to strike. Eventually, however, the manticore is forced to land, then lunges toward Zistral who is waiting for his moment. With a flurry of well-placed blows, the centaur sends the manticore crashing to the ground…

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • Loki was out this session but Andricus ran her character.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at our Olympus Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline. Evidently, I’ve been providing the wrong Twitch address on these although Ronnke’s page simulcast with ours so…
  • We’ve also spun up a Twitter account to report our various statuses. Feel free to follow us @OlympusRPGGroup for news and updates.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein Arn Gains an ‘Ally,’ the Expedition Seizes the Ancient Mosque, and Plans Are Made to Enter Kelmarane…

  • We begin in media res with the warband already locked in pitched battle with skeletons while Arn, who has been cutoff from the others via a force dome, faces off against a sinister cloaked figure who appears on the verge of sacrificing a helpless young woman. The skeletons prove to be little threat to those outside the dome, and as they turn to Arn, they witness him incinerate the robed figure with a flame jet before reaching out to the woman trapped within a cage…
  • And everything changes with this touch. Abruptly, Arn finds himself wearing a strange ring as well as realizing that he had cast the force dome. The other members of the warband are shouting at him and not saying what he thought they were. Worse, he’s standing atop some sort of now broken ward and there is a soft whisper of … something in his ear. From crypts he had not seen before, skeletons rise but are easily smashed by the warband. Arn mumbles a half-hearted excuse about his actions but Finn at the very least plans to keep an eye on him…
  • With the mosque secured, the warband spend a day watching Kalmarane so as to plan their next move. After monitoring the inconsistent gnoll patrols, they decide to ambush one on the presumption that it will not only reduce the number of hostiles they’re facing, but also ensure that there is a large gap in the defenses.
  • The ambush goes off beautifully but with some unexpected results – during the quick skirmish, Arn hurls a fireball at the gnoll leader and the resulting screams of agony are shockingly loud which they perceive as problematic. Leaving behind the corpse of a pugwampi (in the hopes that it will further complicate matters), the warband heads out, angling toward the west of Kalmarane…

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • All of us but Andricus were read-in on the opening fight and how it wasn’t actually what was happening.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at our Olympus Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline. Evidently, I’ve been providing the wrong Twitch address on these although Ronnke’s page simulcast with ours so…
  • We’ve also spun up a Twitter account to report our various statuses. Feel free to follow us @OlympusRPGGroup for news and updates.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein the Expedition Begins to Reclaim the Ancient Mosque from the Pugwampi…

  • Quick flashback: During the trip to Kalmarane, Finn contrives to have a watch with Thorn so they can discuss the unexpected marriage thing. During this conversation, Finn admits to being frustrated that he was caught by surprise but that he is considering not trying to get out of this because Defiant needs allies. Caithness is too far away, the elves will not even talk to him, the centaurs haven’t been inclined to help and the dwarves haven’t responded to messages (although since Bulgaren is a dwarf, Finn wonders if they just don’t care?) So allying with the Fa’iel may be the only option…
  • With Arn hanging back out of concern that he may accidentally burn the entire mosque down, the warband enter the ruins, then spread out so as to minimize the area of effect should the pugwampi bad luck aura trigger.
  • Brum, apart from the rest of the group, encounters and easily defeats a pair of the small gremlin-like creatures, despite their best attempts to strike him from ambush.
  • Simultaneously, the others encounter a handful of massive baboons who posture and charge, but are quickly downed. The surviving animals cower in their tree but make no attempt to counterattack.
  • The band advances toward the pugwampi nest were a fierce, pitched battle ensues. Lan-Feng and Thorn go up to the upper rafter levels using parkour, while the rest attempt to maneuver to best engage the gremlin-like creatures from below. Strangely, Finn proves to be extremely effective thanks to the distant blow weave he has triggered. Unfortunately, someone of his attacks have unexpected side-effects thanks to the pugwampi’s bad luck aura – not only does he accidentally drop the chandelier, but also collapses the part of the balcony that Lan-Feng was upon when he attempts to assist her against several of the creatures. Luckily, she is extremely nimble on her feet and lands like a cat.
  • During this wild melee, the pugwampi leader springs out of hiding and attempts to engage Zistral with a death from above strike, but proves to be not especially effective. It takes several long seconds but the centaur eventually pins the creature to the wall with his spear.
  • The last of the pugwampi fall and the mosque goes silent…

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • Andricus was absent this session.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at our Olympus Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline. Evidently, I’ve been providing the wrong Twitch address on these although Ronnke’s page simulcast with ours so…
  • We’ve also spun up a Twitter account to report our various statuses. Feel free to follow us @OlympusRPGGroup for news and updates.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein the Expedition Reaches Sietch Altayih, Finn Receives a Bride, and the Warband Presses on to Kelmarane …

  • From the oasis where they encountered the Enemy’s scouts, the expedition quickly presses on out of concern that more will arrive soon. Worried that they might be pursued, Rashid opts for a long, circuitous route to their destination, resulting in many extra days on the road.
  • Upon arrival at Sietch Altayih, the Company are greeted by the father of Rashid and Ammerah, Sheikh Al’Dafar ibn Al’Hadir, who is beyond grateful to see his children returned with the help they sought out while simultaneously saddened that his youngest son, Sa’id, did not survive. He declares that a feast must be held in the honor of the newcomers before taking Rashid aside to question him. The warband are escorted to baths – Lan-Feng is taken away with the women – which they gratefully accept.
  • Arn and Finn are also singled out by Janek Kaalem el-Zaidi, the Fa’iel’s wiseman who is a spellcaster himself, albeit one who is not as powerful as either of them, who is eager to talk with them about the entire situation. They learn that scouts have been sent to the gnoll-occupied village of Kelmarane to seek out the other half of a map that will lead the Janek (for that is a title, not a name as Finn discovers) to a long-lost djinn city known as Yaqut min Alraml that is the focus of this hunt.
  • As dusk settles and the Company assemble for the feast, Zistral decides that he would rather be outside, scouting, since the sietch is mostly underground which he finds uncomfortable.
  • Sheikh Al’Dafar throws a good feast but, in the middle of it, makes an offer of his ‘family’s water’ to ‘Lord’ Finn via his daughters. Realizing very quickly what this is but not sure how to get out of this without causing an incident, Finn accepts the water from Ammerah, which effectively betroths them. The other members of his warband do not immediately understand what has happened since they do not speak Arabic, but quickly figure it out.
  • Outside, Zistral is patrolling and encounters a wounded scout who passes out soon after. Carrying the scout back to the sietch, he will learn that this man is one of those who went to Kelmarane. Finn does some magical healing on the man to ensure that he will survive.
  • From Rashid, Finn also learns that a ‘cleansing’ ceremony is required before consummation of any marriage – this will last a week and a day – but the discovery of the scout throws this into flux as Finn decides to take his warband to Kelmarane to finish the task. It will take some days to reach the village.
  • Some miles from Kelmarane, the warband discover an old and mostly ruined mosque that will work very well as a base of operations. Lan-Feng and Thorn are sent forward to recon but quickly discover that pugwampis inhabit it. Despite their reticence to deal with these gremlin-like characters, the warband recognize that this mosque is ideally located.
  • So they grimace and get to work…

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • Once again, Finn sort of dominated this session. As his player, I need to find a way to incorporate the other PCs into the events more.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at our Olympus Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline. Evidently, I’ve been providing the wrong Twitch address on these although Ronnke’s page simulcast with ours so…
  • We’ve also spun up a Twitter account to report our various statuses. Feel free to follow us @OlympusRPGGroup for news and updates.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein the Expedition Enters the Djinn Lands and the Enemy’s Scouts Are Encountered…

  • Having dealt with the irritating gremlin-like creatures, the expedition spends a few days replenishing their supplies before officially embarking. They now travel during the night to avoid the too hot days.
  • During the many days trip, the company get to know the Fa’iel better, with Finn continuing to alternating his time with Rashid ibn Al’Dafar and the man’s sister, Ammerah who is teaching him their language so he does not always have to create a weave for it; it is clear to any with eyes that Finn finds the lady extremely attractive. Thorn is quickly drawn into gambling with Rashid and his men, and somehow manages to win more than he loses. Brum spins tales of dwarven hijinks while Arn reads, Lan-Feng tries to avoid Rashid’s less than subtle attempts to woo her and Zistral learns the ways of the desert.
  • Some days beyond the starting point, the expedition pauses at a buried cistern that Arn recognizes from his dream. He senses sinister eyes – Lady Ammerah appears to sense them as well – and a distant scout is detected. Rashid urges prompt action – they cannot let this scout report to his master! – and Finn directs the company to move with aggression and haste.
  • As it turns out, there are two scouts, though one is concealed, and both end up unleashing bottled sand elementals upon the company. The fight is fierce, though it quickly goes against the Enemy once Arn hurls a ball of fire at one of the sand creatures and turns it to glass.
  • Afterward, the company discover that the scouts appear to have committed suicide via small glass vials rather than be captured, a sure sign of their fanaticism. They also bear glass spheres that Rashid identifies as a source of the Enemy’s scrying. Even though they are destroyed, he urges them to press on quickly – the Enemy may be upon them at any moment…
  • Hours later, long after the expedition has moved on, a trio of centaurs arrive via magic to investigate. One is a mage, the others are warriors, and they take up the hunt…

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein a Dream is Had, a Duel is Won and Vile Gremlins Are Slain…

  • Arn Dreams of the desert. He is alone, dying of thirst and generally being killed by the sun. During this dream, he is stung by a sand scorpion and then, delirious, finds an dry cistern. A shadowy figure appears and offers assistance … which Arn accepts. The cistern is suddenly full of water which is bitter and cold. He wakes … and can still taste the bitterness of the water.
  • Meanwhile, as the rest of the warband departs Defiant, Zistral heads north, seeking out his tribe to inform them that the Spear of the Hunter has been found. He is disappointed to discover that the truly important leaders are absent, but passes on information regarding where he is heading before departing to rejoin the warband..
  • Leaving behind both Haruki and Yusuf at Sir Malfoy’s request, Finn and the rest of the warband depart Defiant and begin heading south, accompanied by Rashid ibn Al’Dafar and his lovely sister, Ammerah el’Iyana bint Al’Dafar, as well as a handful of Fa’iel.
  • Many days out of Defiant, the warband encounter a large gathering of centaurs waiting alongside the River Kashk. These are many tribes, including Zistral’s, gathered here to judge whether the the Spear of the Hunter has truly been found. Zistral must undertake three Trials – one of endurance, one of wisdom, and one of strength. He will be opposed by the chief warrior of his tribe, a complete jerk by the name of Gilthorax, who insists that Zistral is unworthy.
  • The first Trial is a race to get a message to a distant location and back; Zistral easily wins this race, much to his foe’s irritation. The second Trial is a question regarding who to warn first in the face of a terrible threat, a village of hunters or a village of warriors; his foe opts for the warriors, choosing to sacrifice the hunters, while Zistral choses the hunters first who he will then lead to join with the warriors. Zistral is determined to be the victor in this as well. Finally, the third Trial is a duel between the two and Zistral so easily defeats his foe that it is almost embarrassing. He is declared the First Scout.
  • Setting out the following morning, the warband presses on, finally reaching the Fa’iel encampment some days later. Rashid is alarmed to discover it in chaos, with men attempting to recapture panicked animals or attempting to put out a fire. Finn quickly issues orders – Zistral to aid the recapture, Arn to help with the fire, everyone else with him. He then assists Ammerah with the injured, utilizing his weaving to save one from the brink of death much to her visible awe. The rest of the warband stand ready in the event that this is an ambush.
  • Afterward, the warband learns that this is due to the unluck aura of some local creatures known as pugwampi that are gremlin-like creatures. One evidently snatched a goat and, in the process, caused this mess.
  • Eventually, the warband opts to seek out these creatures due to a persistent and irritating noise in the distance – this leads to a comedy of errors as they trip and stumble and cause accidental brushfires, but the pugwampi themselves are not particularly impressive physically. The goat is rescued and the nasty gremlin things are slain.

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee continued as GM for this adventure arc.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein a New Adventure Beckons…

A month has passed since the orcish attack on Castle Defiant was repulsed.

The response to Finn Sardock’s request for aid from Caithness was (relatively) prompt: lumber, laborers, and additional soldiers have arrived via a Gate, one presumably created by his and Arn’s former master, Gestlin. To Finn’s dismay, no additional instructions from Lord Kerin or his heir, leaving young Master Sardock in an ever increasing role of responsibility as regent for the absent lord.

To Haruki’s great surprise, his elder sister, whom he thought slain, accompanied the reinforcements, bringing with her surprising tales of her survival. She is surprised (and probably a little suspicious) that her brother has accept Finn as his new daimyō, especially when it seems that Sardock does not understand what this means.

Reconstruction continues, with many of the damaged buildings of the surrounding village and the stonework upon Defiant being restored to functionality. During this short period, a dwarven warrior who names himself Brumrumli Barrelfoot has joined the company, quickly proving himself to be a more than capable warrior. Morale among the people of Defiant has cautiously grown.

  • Some days earlier, a patrol with Arn, Lan-Feng and Thorn encountered a small orcish scouting party that seemed to be part of a much larger band. With this in mind, Finn leads a larger patrol with them, Brum and Zistral to seek out this band.
  • They eventually locate the orcs who are already engaged in a pitched battle with unfamiliar humanoid figures. Aiding the orcs is a giant that many of the warband recognize from the assault upon Defiant and a second group of orcs are moving to reinforce the first. Finn issues quick commands, complimented by Brum’s tactical expertise, and the warband rushes forward.
  • Their arrival catches the orcs by surprise and the warband shamelessly abuse this with Arn first hurling an explosive fireball at the leader of the orcish reinforcements while Zistral charges the giant. A fierce battle quickly ensues but it goes very poorly for the greenskins and their giant companion.
  • In the aftermath of the battle, the warband take stock of those they have just assisted. These are clearly desert people and they have many casualties, including a spellcaster of some sort who killed himself to cast a spell. The sole woman present (who bears enough resemblance to the dead man to hint at a familial relationship) is the only one present who speaks any Anglish and even then, just barely; she and the other survivors react strangely when Finn offers her water – his intent is to weave a language borrowing spell so he can converse properly, but withdraws this at their reaction. She does identify herself as Ammerah el’Iyana bint Al’Dafar, and Finn, who has a weakness for ‘dusky beauties’ is quite entranced.
  • After much gesturing and halting explanations, the warband learn that these people – they call themselves Fa’iel – are seeking out the master of Defiant, which Finn grudgingly acknowledges to be him (for the time being.) They need assistance to free themselves from the tyranny of their master and were actively seeking out ‘One’ and ‘Two’ of Three casters, with Finn being among these and Arn another – they actually have a scroll with the latter’s image! The Third was meant to be her slain brother…
  • Ammerah’s other brother, Rashid ibn Al’Dafar, fell during the battle but was not slain and, with the warband’s assistance, is restored to consciousness, at which point he takes over the conversation, using his sister as a translator. In gratitude for Zistral’s heroic charge against the giant which saved many of the Fa’iel from being slain, he presents (through Finn which everyone presumes to be a cultural thing) a spear the centaur recognizes as an ancient weapon of legend for his people. Rashid then notices Lan-Feng and is almost immediately entranced by the tiny but fierce young woman.
  • Finn readily agrees to assist them, impressing Brum in the process, and the warband escort the wounded back to Defiant where they can further hash out the specifics and welcome the Fa’iel more properly. Once there, Yusuf is pressed into service as a translator – although Finn utilizes a weave to borrow the former gladiator’s Arabic language.
  • After discussing briefly with Ser Malfoy, Finn agrees to lead his warband to meet with the Fa’iel leader to discuss this matter further principally out of hopes of forming an alliance with them against the orcs. Zistral, now with the weapon of legend for his people, announces he must tell the other centaurs that it has been found and will rejoin them later

Player Notes:

  • CommJunkee took over as GM for this adventure arc, which resulted in Ronnke needing a character hence Brum the dwarf. Loki also brought in Lan-Feng, who is Haruki’s older (but much, much smaller) sister. Mel opted to continue her hiatus.
  • Since we’re livestreaming our games every Saturdays (6:00PM Eastern) at Ronnke’s Twitch channel and then later uploading the stream on the YouTube channel, we’ve decided to dial back on the extensiveness of the recap to just the overall outline.

Dramatis Personæ

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Wherein a Battle is Fought .. and Won..

Leaving behind the fallen orcs, the adventurers press on despite having already marched through the night. Rather than press their luck and attempt to ford the swamp once more, it is decided that they will swing west around it; this will add, at the minimum, a half day of travel, but all agree that it is likely necessary. By the time night begins to fall, they are all thoroughly exhausted and camp is set with an eye toward concealment while maximizing comfort. That night, the keen-eyed among them can see distant torches to the east, likely on the other side of the swamp. The orc raiding party is on the march.

The next two days are uneventful if exhausting, with surprisingly good weather, but on the third evening, after the adventurers have managed to get around the swamp, Finn realizes that the torches of the orcs have drawn closer. He realizes immediately that this raiding party appears to be continuing through the night! After a moment of consideration, he wakes everyone else – they have to press on now if they mean to beat the orcs. Zistral is sent on ahead to warn Defiant as he’s the fastest of them all; for him, the castle is a mere three hours away.

He reaches Defiant without difficulty where he promptly notes that the nearby Galentown appears abandoned; upon entry into the castle, though, he realizes why: all of the commoners are inside the walls. While reporting to the officer of the watch, Zistral also notes a dark mood hanging over the castle and learns of Ser Dane’s death as well concerns about a missing family. The Delaneys, who consist of three adults and two children, vanished the same day that Ser Dane and the soldier Morgan were slain by vile necromancy. While Zistral greatly wishes to investigate the missing family personally, he is too exhausted by his long run so instead, he finds somewhere to rest.

Several hours later, the rest of the adventurers reach Defiant. During their forced march, they noted that the orcs appear to have split into two groups, though there is no immediate tactical benefit to this that Finn can discern. By the time of their arrival, all are filthy, sweaty and want nothing more than to find a bed. Unfortunately, as they enter, there is a great clamor and shouts of excitement. Finn initially thinks nothing of this and begins reporting to Ser Malfoy about the approaching orcs, and the knight listens with a strange expression on his face before asking to speak with young Sardock privately. His use of ‘milord’ should have been a hint of what is about to related, but Finn is exhausted and thinks nothing of it … until Malfoy draws his apart and reveals that Ser Dane is dead. Finn is visibly affected by this – and everyone who is looking at him can see this – but he wrestles his emotions under control. There is no time for grief, he says. They must focus on the orcs for now.

As he attempts to focus on planning for the attack, Finn notes how concerned the soldiers are when they glance in his direction, which is no surprise as he’s always been bad at hiding what he is thinking or feeling. Realizing he must assuage their worries or the coming battle will go ill, he finds an elevated place and makes a speech: “Men of Defiant, harken to me! I know your fears. There are many of them and few of us. Our greatest war captain is slain by treachery and only his son, the least of the Sardocks, stands in his place. Has the blood of Caithness bred so thin that a mere fist of orcs frighten us? We, who are descended from greatness, from the heroes who threw off the yoke of tyranny from the greatest empire known to man, from the crusaders who threw back the Vasar in their places of power before marching from those very battlefields to once more hold firm against those who would force them to bend knee once more. This is our home now. We run from no one. This is Defiant. We are Defiant. And here. We. Stand.

The speech goes over well and soon, the soldiers and commoners alike are calling out his name: Sardock! Finn tries not to think about his father and instead, buries himself in work as a distraction. He coordinates with Ser Malfoy regarding the defensive plan, urges everyone to get some rest, and in general, tries to be the best war-time commander he can be.

As most of his fellow adventurers find places to bed down to recover from their forced march, Zistral, with “Lord” Finn’s permission, exists the castle and ventures to to the Delaney house where he looks around. Though it takes some time, his search turns up the barest hints of orc tracks. This bodes ill for the family and he returns to inform the war council of his findings. Meanwhile, the deployed scouts have returned with word that the first group of orcs has arrived and are setting up a camp some distance away. At first, everyone worries that the attack will come immediately, but eventually, it occurs to most that the orcs also conducted a forced march and are likely resting to recover. With nothing else to do, Finn finally retires for the evening.

Upon the following morning, the orc warband appears. The second group has rejoined the first, bringing with it a pair of giants which is bad enough, but the sight of the still alive Delaneys strapped to wide shields under which a detachment crouches is far, far worse. Ilanna is the first to realize that the orcs are literally using human shields but word quickly spreads. Only the shield-bearers close toward the walls, marching in a disciplined manner that is far from standard with orcs and their intent is ruthlessly logical: none of the Defiant archers are willing to loose arrows at the orcs for fear of striking the Delaneys! Horrified at the thought that she might have to shoot an innocent, Ilanna instead looses a shaft at the nearest of the giants and her aim is true; the arrow strikes him in the eye and he topples backward, unconscious or dead no one can tell. A great cheer goes up from the Defiant defenders, but then, the battle is on.

The orcs skirmish forward, relying on range and cover to protect them, and thanks to their living human shields, they inflict some casualties upon the defenders. Seeing that the orcs are using flags to issue commands, Zistral exits the castle through a sally port, then flanks wide and runs down the flag-bearers. His speed and the surprise of his attack results in him emerging unscathed, though he is chased back into the woods by a salvo of arrows. Thorn, while upon the ramparts and covering with a bow, ensures that several orcs who were about to strike the centaur instead take arrow shafts themselves.

Suddenly, the orcish commander blows a horn and the gates of Defiant begin to open which results in the entire enemy force charge forward madly! Finn realizes that there are invisible foes inside the gates and calls out a warning in his ringing voice, and Arn reacts immediately by hurling a powerful and explosive fireball at the gates, which hurls one of the saboteurs outside. As one of the invisible orcs is pincushioned by Defiant archers, the other staggers to his feet just in time to get walloped by Haruki who is rushing to slam the gates closed. The gigantic Sahudi rōnin is able to easily slam the gates shut and bar it again moments before the orcs strike. Not expecting the gates to be closed, the orcs slam into it, their momentum abruptly arrested.

In the mad melee, Zistral (who is still outside the walls) lunges forward to free the Delaneys and get them to safety, which is a great moral victory. Thorn, looses an arrow at the giant, striking him in the elbow so he drops the boulder he was about to hurl, and then, Haruki, seeing a momentary opportunity as the giant’s follow-up charge causes a gap in the gates, thrusts his spear forward and up, blinding the creature in one of it’s eyes. As the orcs clamber up the walls, Lily Ballyhithe (who is possibly pregnant with his child) races up the ramparts for … reasons; he seizes her, gives her a deep, swooning kiss, then hurls her back off the wall and into a convenient wagon of hay before spinning to stab a climbing orc in the face. Arn simply hurls additional explosive fireballs that hurl burning orcs backward.

Seeing that the crippling failure of the orc charge as well as the stout defense and the significant actions of the heroes has put the attackers’ in a bad position, the orc commander sounds the retreat. As they fall back, Finn initially wants to charge forward in an all-out attack, but Ser Malfoy wisely points out that this is a bad idea as not only will it mean abandoning the walls and leave them open to a counter-attack once the orcs have gotten clear, but this might be something of a feint. Noting the wisdom in this, Finn orders the defenders to hold and continue using their ranged weapons upon the retreating orcs. As the attackers withdraw, the scarred orc commander thrusts his spear into the air, though it is unclear whether this is intended as a salute to a worthy foe or a threat. Finn returns the gesture with his naginata, but his is clearly meant to be a warning, especially as he bellows, Here we stand!

The defenders of Defiant cheer their victory, though two of the soldiers have been slain and no one else has escaped injury. Someone – probably Thorn – starts up a chant: Sardock! Sardock! Sardock! And soon everyone within the castle has taken it up. For Finn, it is a heady moment – he has led men to victory against terrible odds … just like his father – tinged by deep regret that Ser Dane is gone. For the moment, he buries these thoughts and instead focuses on interacting with the survivors, congratulating them for their personal heroism and great deeds.

Some hours later, as the warriors and citizens of Defiant finally begin to relax since it appears that the orcs have truly retreated, Ser Toby Kname returns, accompanied by Sloth and a handful of elves. Finn takes Thorn out to greet them, gesturing to the many orc bodies and informing them that they’d missed the excitement. The elf, who identifies himself as Nialdor, reveals that his liege has instructed him to reside in Defiant for a time to determine the feasibility of an actual alliance. Finn offers his hand and welcomes Nialdor to Defiant.

In the wake of the battle, Haruki seeks out Finn and asks to serve the younger Sardock, effectively requesting that Finn become his master so Nakasato would no longer be rōnin. Not quite understanding what Haruki is asking (since he doesn’t quite understand Sahudese culture), Finn accepts.

Player Notes:

  • We’ve started Live Streaming our gaming sessions. If you’re interested in watching during gametime, that’s on Saturdays, 6:00 PM Eastern on Ronnke’s Twitch channel. This stream is also on YouTube, although that doesn’t go up until some time later.
  • This marks the end of this particular run of Banestorm and it goes on hiatus. We’ll pick it up again … sometime.
  • The actual battle for Defiant was, as expected, a Mass Combat, but we really noticed how badly those super abstract rules gimp combat monsters. Case in point: both Haruki and Zistral were drastically less effective using the Mass Combat rules than they would be if we’d used normal tactical combat. I’m not sure how to actually resolve this sort of thing in the future apart from maybe running a tactical combat during it to reflect a “Significant Action” but that could definitely be problematic as well.
  • Once again, we’ve discovered that the placement of Significant Actions in Mass Combat really needs to come after the Choose Battle Strategy, because otherwise it just doesn’t make any sense. If you declare that your PC is charging a flag-bearer and killing him with a single, mighty blow, but then, the battle strategy chosen by your allied commander is Full Retreat which inflicts no casualties at all on the enemy, this doesn’t make sense. I think, in the future, when I run a Mass Combat, I’m going to swap those around so battle strategy comes before significant actions.
  • I think, in light of the above issues where some PCs are less effective in mass combat, I would have considered doing this battle differently. Using the Battle of Helm’s Deep from “The Two Towers” movie, if I’d been the GM, I’d have had the orcs have beaten the PCs back to the castle and the attack already be underway, so the PCs could be cast in the Gandalf and Eomer roles, arriving to smash into the flanks of the orcish attackers and hit their vulnerable (and hopefully surprised) commander. In fact, I’d actually planned on doing something very much like that in my final Casus Belli run, but the PCs decided to take a completely different approach, which forced me to throw that plan out the window.
  • As a result of these events, Finn is basically “in charge” of the barony now (so he’s sort of a stand-in “Lord Defiant”) though we’ll see how long that lasts. I’ve already stated that he is going to constantly be reminding everyone that Lord Kerin is the actual liege of Defiant, but I think it’d be amusing if no one pays attention to that which could lead to … interesting times when/if Kerin actually joins us down the road.

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein Prisoners are Freed, a Tiger is Loosed, and More Orcs are Felled…

After some quick discussion, Thorondil’s need to sneak into the camp to discover Erandil’s fate matches with Finn’s need for additional intelligence about the capabilities of the orcs and the two put their heads together to bash out a quick plan. First, Finn weaves a few spells to enhance his elven comrade’s stealth as well as allowing them to maintain telepathic communication. While the rest of the group (along with Finn) maintains an overwatch, the elf intends to sneak past the guards. Everyone braces themselves for the worst.

Penetrating the camp turns out to be relatively easy for Thorn and he expertly skirts around the patrols. He briefly pauses at a rudimentary stable and discreetly unlocks the paddock before pressing on. The guard watching over the horses inside never even sees him.

At the center of the camp, he discovers a large construction wrought of wooden slats and poor quality chains that serves as a sort of prison. Inside is an elf, a dwarf, and almost a dozen beaten-looking orcs. None of them truly react to his appearance, though Thorn pauses to gesture for them to remain silent. He then continues to stealth toward the large, central structure that he suspects to be the chief’s hut.

Inside this hut, he is startled to discover a sleeping tiger who is leashed via a great chain. After briefly conversing with Finn via their magical telepathy, Thorn seeks out a lamp to grease up the stake that the great cat is secured to while Finn weaves a summoning spell intended to pull the tiger toward him. It is the young Sardock’s intent to cancel the spell once the tiger is free though he is hopeful that the great cat running through the camp will cause sufficient distraction to allow Thorn to sneak out. The cat jerks awake, then bolts out, dragging his now freed chain. Finn also asks the elf to seize any potential intelligence – maps, documents, etc. – available which Thorn does … right before he tosses the lamp against the cloth side of the tent where it quickly catches.

Pausing at the large cage, Thorn picks the rudimentary lock as the armcry is raised, both at the sudden appearance of the great cat and the unexpected fire at the chief’s tent. Only the dwarf and the elf accept the offer to make an escape attempt – the captured orcs appear to have all been thoroughly broken by their captors and do not stir even a little bit. Thorn and his two new companions race back the way he came but are noticed as they near the paddock. The dwarf and the elf hurl themselves at the orc there, managing to down him in a furious melee that lasts only seconds; while they do this, Thorn frees the horses and slaps them on their hindquarters, ensuring that they will flee deeper into the camp and cause even more chaos. The three then continue their mad sprint, dodging and eluding confused orcs turning to the noises. Along the way, the two escaped prisoners take injuries but do not let this stop them.

Warned by Finn, the rest of the adventurers break from their hiding place and sweep wide so as to reunite with Thorn and his two allies. Knowing that a group of orcs are now in pursuit, the group marches through the night, exhausting though it is. Near dawn, Finn decides that they will ambush their pursuers and they find a likely spot where everyone finds a good place to hide for the moment.

The orcs are caught completely by surprise and, though they do mount a valiant defense, they are soon felled. Recognizing that none can escape, the few that break and run when the skirmish turns against them are run down. Once again, Zistral’s great speed allows him to easily catch up to even the unwounded orcs and, in less than a minute, ten of the creatures are slain with no actual casualties on the adventurer’s side (though Thorn did manage to briefly throw out his shoulder.)

Back on the road they go, this time intending on pursuing the raiding party dispatched toward Defiant. Along the way, the dwarf and elf discuss how they came to be prisoners and Thorn learns that Erandil is likely at ‘The Crater,” which is Bulgaren’s headquarters. Even worse, the elf says that Erandil is being experimented on by the foul dwarf exile. At the same time, Haruki chats with the rescued dwarf and offers to see to it that they reach Defiant safely; at first, both the dwarf and the elf are concerned that they have no choice in the destination, but it is quickly made clear to them that they are not prisoners and may go wherever they would like. Both agree to continue on to Defiant so as to debrief Finn’s father, Ser Dane.

But first, they have to get to Defiant intact…

Player Notes:

  • I think we were expecting some players to be out this week, but nobody missed. No game this week even though only one player (me) will be out; since Finn has become a fairly integral part of the narrative, my long planned Memorial Day weekend vacation has thrown a wrench into the GM’s plans.
  • This session went really long. In addition to Thorn’s misadventure in the orc camp, the GM kept having to break away from the game due to familial obligations and was, for a while, using TeamSpeak while in his car. And then, the ambush fight took a lot longer than expected.
  • Due to the above-mentioned misadventure for Thorn, he dominated most of this session, though not on purpose. As was normal for Gigermann, the dice were not kind so he ended up having to burn all three of his Plot Points while in the camp. In retrospect, if I’d been the GM, I think I would have had the other players run the imprisoned orcs who would rush forward and attack their captors, thus causing a major distraction that would let Thorn escape without too much notice.
  • I don’t think the GM actually named either the dwarf or the elf that Thorn freed. We jokingly took to calling them “Gimly” and “Legulas” and intentionally misspelled the names.
  • By my count, we’ve killed at least twenty orcs in the last two days (in-game) which is two full Mass Combat units. Go, Us!

Dramatis Personæ

Wherein a Swamp is Crossed and an Ambush is Sprung…

From Defiant, the small team of adventurers press north, hot on the trail of the orcs led by the dwarf, Bulgaren. Despite their best efforts, though, by dusk it is clear that these orcs are making much better time. Rather than push on into the night, Finn decides they should camp and strike out at dawn. It is a difficult, tense and very uncomfortable night, but is thankfully uneventful.

Around mid-morning on the second day, they encounter a campsite that, to their surprise, contains four orcish corpses. A quick investigation transpires and Arn is able to deduce that these orcs were ritually sacrificed for some sort of necromantic reason, though the purpose behind such deaths eludes him. Even more troublesome is that these orcs do not appear to have been restrained in any way; as far as Arn can tell, they willingly allowed themselves to be murdered! It is a disconcerting discovery but, with their avenues of investigation exhausted, Finn orders them to strike out once more.

Again, the day passes with no sign that the orcs are slowing. In fact, it appears that the adventurers are falling behind somewhat as Bulgaren’s group appear to be making excellent time. Near midday, the adventurers reach the Acid Swamps of Solfor where they debate their next course of action as the trail clearly goes through; as going around the swamp would add more than half a day to travel and there is no indication that the orcs destination isn’t in the swamp, it is decided that they will pursue. Thankfully, Finn recalls a story of a similar situation from the Huallapan Crusade so they spend time seeking out plants native to this swamp to wrap around their feet.

The trek through the acid swamp is frustrating and disgusting, with the adventurers struggling to keep their footing and to avoid the more dangerous spots. Midway through this crossing, a vicious caustigus attempts to snatch Ilanna and drag her into a dank pool, but she springs back out of the way and Zistral rams his spear deeply into the beast, forcing it to retreat. Rather than delay on an unnecessary encounter, the adventurers press on … though Arn does hurl a fireball at the creature when it pokes its head back out of the pool.

Once out of the swamp, the adventurers continue following the orc trail until dusk when they opt to make camp and rest to recover from the trek. When dawn arrives, they once more set out and reach a massive encampment in the mid-afternoon. There are far too many orcs present for them to simply charge forward so they spend some hours maneuvering to avoid patrols while conduction visual recon. This observation allows them to estimate that there are at least two hundred warriors present, an overwhelming number that the score of Defiant defenders would be hard-pressed to hold against. Finn, who has the most strategic mind, notes that the orcs have not even started preparing for a march which he takes to mean they are likely to simply send a large raiding party instead of the full force.

While relocating to avoid an orc patrol, Haruki accidentally knocks down a rotten tree while trying to hide but that is not what draws the orcs’ attention; instead, they discover Finn’s notes on the encampment which have unluckily fallen from his pack when they relocated. Upon seeing the patrol commander apparently issue instructions to send word back to the encampment, Finn orders an assault: they cannot allow these orcs to survive and alert the others! Zistral charges forward, being the swiftest, intent on bringing down the scouts sent back, while Ilanna and Thorondil loose arrows at the rest and Arn hurls a small fireball. Finn, Haruki and Yusuf race forward on foot (though Finn quickly falls behind his faster companions) to engage the orcs. The skirmish is over in a matter of seconds with none of the adventurers taking injury.

After concealing the bodies of the orcs and searching them for intel, the party relocates once more in an attempt to get a better look at the encampment, with Thorondil especially eager to sneak forward in order to determine whether Erandil is imprisoned within. As night sets in, they can see the dwarf, Bulgaren, conversing with an orc before heading north with a party of thirty or so; the orc then gives an apparently rousing speech which none of the adventurers can understand (or really hear due to their distance away) which results in much cheering. A large number of the orcs then begin to gather arms and gear; it seems clear that the raiding party is finally assembling.

Time is running out.

Player Notes:

  • Arn was present after all so we sent Ser Toby Kname to elves instead.
  • The Players are (logically) presuming that the sacrificed orcs led to the Dementor things in the stinger for the previous session that claimed Ser Dane’s life, but the characters are ignorant of that and have no real knowledge of necromancy so this remains an ominous mystery to them.
  • The orc ambush on our part kicked off a debate regarding the nature of Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) that was never actually settled.
  • Two players will definitely be out next week so … I actually don’t know what we’re doing. Gigermann (Thorondil) wants to conduct a stealth operation into the encampment to possibly rescue Erandil which we may handle?