The Warband

Bradán ap Cadell (Ronnke)
Meadhbh verch Cadell (Melissa)
Marcus and Echo (CommJunkee)
Heddwyn ap Idris (Gigermann)
Aedán ap Dewar (Winston)
Simple Angus (Herodian)
Gwion ap Enfrys (Andricus)

Act I: The Feast

  • 11 March, 457 Anno Domini
  • Late in the evening of this day, in Bryn Euryn, Angus is checking in with his little birds while Aedan gets to know Gwion. In the process of this, he is pointed toward a suspicious man lurking near the manor. Although dressed like a slave, this man does not have the bearing of one and seems more intent on trying to eavesdrop on the Council than whatever his assigned task happens to be. After a moment of consideration, Angus strides boldly forward, intending on distracting the man.
  • Instead, however, the not-slave panics and bolts, immediately resulting in a chase with Angus shouting, “THIEF!” at the top of his lungs to maintain his cover. The various warriors present barely react beyond cheering the two on – Angus is, after all, perceived by most as “simple” and who cares if he chases a slave around? – and placing bets. One even takes a half-hearted spear throw, mostly intent more on putting a weapon into the mess than actually hitting anyone but both participants in this chase ignore the spear.
  • The chase ends when the not-slave makes a mistake and attempts to use the half-frozen stream to escape – this not only slows him down long enough for Angus to catch up with him, the frigid temperatures of the water nearly incapacitates him as well. A wrestling match now ensues, with Angus emerging on top, especially once Aedan shows up to kick the not-slave into the chase. The warriors boo this turn of events but then go back to doing whatever it was they were doing before.
  • Following the Council meeting as the feast itself begins, Bradan is quickly approached by Lord Idnerth who immediately promises his warband to the planned raid on Tegeingl; the cantref’s spymaster, Lord Berthgwyn apologizes to Bradan for his band’s inability to participate – they are all deployed and doing sneaky spy things for him – but he promises to provide the most up to date information on Tegeingl possible. Lord Brochfael, the original proposer of the raid visibly hesitates, then briefly scowls in Lord Rhodri’s direction before pledging his men as well. This gives Bradan 30 men for the raid and Lord Ieuan states that his men are willing to join … if Bradan believes they are necessary.
  • Suspicious of many of the lords, Bradan begins hatching a plan to cobble together a force from all of the lords in order to minimize the chance of sneaky stuffs. While he is doing this, Angus briefly joins him and advises him of what has happened; Bradan orders to secure the man and find out what he knows. In this moment, he also meets Gwion for the first time and admits that he disliked the archer’s father intensely. He will give Gwion the benefit of the doubt for the moment before returning to the feast where he discovers Lord Rhodri has stolen his seat and is trying (rather unsuccessfully) to flirt with Addiena. The two noblemen have a tense exchange that highlights the fact that neither trust one another.
  • With Aedan’s assistance (while Angus loudly declares in his “simplistic” way that he caught a thief!), they take the not-slave to an abandoned cottage where Angus acts like the “good cop” to interrogate him. Breaking under Angus’ expert skills, the not-slave reveals that his name is Amlodd ap Brys and that he is a spy for Baron Dafydd of Rhufoniog. Satisfied that he has gained adequate actionable intel, Angus then instructs Aedan to watch over their spy while he informs Lord Bradan of this – the blacksmith is clearly considering other things because he thinks little of obeying the pitiable Angus.
  • After being informed of what Angus has learned, Bradan then begins advising the various members of the Council – Berthgwyn immediately demands to see this spy and, after being pointed there, spends several hours interrogating him.
  • Heddwyn spends much of the feast with Druid Adaryn and Argante, who has joined them. There is much cryptic discussion, complicated by the fact that Adaryn speaks only in questions and Argante is unnecessarily obtuse. Early in the feast, the two physically react to something elsewhere. They look to the north-west and then share a look with a frown. This causes Heddwyn to react immediately – what the heck was that all about? Argante replies: “A dead man is returned from Llyr’s embrace. And he brings with him terrible power. Everything changes from this point forward.” She leaves.

Act II: Return of a Dead Man

  • Many miles to the north and the west of Bryn Euryn, Meadhbh faces her brother, Marcus, back from the dead. He is thin and … well, not pale because he’s sunburned, but looks to have only just recovered from some sort of injuries. There is a touching reunion … again as Meadhbh tackle-hugs her brother and squeezes him so hard that he struggles to breathe.
  • With Marcus’ bad news – and several heads from dead men as trophies – the small group sets off, despite the late hour. It will take them until dawn to reach Bryn Euryn.
  • As is his tradition when visiting Bryn Euryn, Heddwyn spends the night in Adaryn’s little hut within a small copse of sacred trees. Here, they can work magic without being interrupted and his mentor has does something to ensure they are warm in the cold temperatures. Actually, he overdid it as the hut feels like a sauna. Here, Adaryn instructs him on the “Language of Trees” and has given him new knowledge via an enchanted acorn that Heddwyn then consumes, thus imparting a bit of Adaryn’s wisdom upon him (temporarily.) Just prior to dawn, Adaryn hears something on the wind and asks if they should take a walk.
  • When the two men emerge from the grove, they can see the approach of Meadhbh and company, along with Marcus, back from the dead. Morgan is already approaching them and immediately begins debriefing Lady Meadhbh about Lord Bradan’s current temper, which surprises her not in the least as this is something he’s been doing for months. In mid-sentence, he realizes that she is wounded and scowls very, very hard at the three warriors who were tasked to protect her. Meadhbh rolls her eyes at this as Morgan then glances at Marcus and simply remarks, “Welcome home, Lord. You have been missed.
  • As soon as Marcus reveals the danger they are in, Heddwyn heads for the great hill overlooking the village with an intent to use magic to get a better grasp on the tactical situation.
  • Marcus enters the manor like a cool bad-ass and Bradan, still mostly intoxicated, initially thinks he is imagining his brother’s return, then grips him tight in a hug just as intense as Meadhbh’s was. He sobers quickly at the news and yells for the men to rouse. Owain is at least initially disbelieving of this story, especially since he does not know Marcus and Bradan’s brother is, frankly, dressed as an Irishman at this point, but Adaryn interjects with several questions in Irish, confirming that he actually understands the language.
  • The raid, Baron Owain, must be postponed while they prepare for war.

Act III: Gathering Strength

  • Bradan rushes from the manor and nabs a horse to race up the hill – he pauses to grab Heddwyn (already on his way up) onto the steed so they can reach the summit. There, in the west, they can just barely make out the distant shapes of the ships. Bradan orders Heddwyn to keep an eye on things – he is unaware that the druid apprentice’s eyes have already whited out as Heddwyn attempts to use magic on the various seagulls so he can look through its eyes.
  • Back down the hill Bradan rushes, pausing to instruct a local boy to join the bard at the top of the hill and serve as a messenger. Into the manor Bradan goes to rejoin Owain and the members of the Council who remained in Bryn Euryn to sleep off their drunkenness where they discuss options: the manor lords are logically going to be resistant to leaving their manors with their warriors, so some convincing will be required. Bradan, however, does not hesitate and lays out a strong strategical reason for doing that very thing – his reasoning is very sound and Lord Idnerth pledges his men to his effort and Lord Berthgwyn (who has joined them) is visibly angry that his men are not available.
  • A decision is made to reinforce Bryn Euryn and draw the Irish here, but they will need more troops so Bradan declares his intention to ride to the other manor lords and plead his case. Owain agrees to this and states that he will accompany to lend his authority while most of the other PCs begin working on reinforcing the village although he takes Angus and Gwion with him.
  • They first ride to Lord Ieuan, who has the largest number of troops present; by the time they reach the manor, word has reached the manor and the warriors are assembling. Ieuan is leery about abandoning his manor despite the persuasive arguments laid out before him. He agrees to provide half of his troops but, if Owain agrees to owe him a Favor, will send all of them. This irritates Bradan somewhat but they need the troops so when Owain gives him a questioning look, he nods.
  • On to Lord Rhodri’s manor they ride where Bradan repeats his plan – despite his dislike of Bradan, Lord Rhodri acknowledges that this is a better option than not and agrees to march with them.
  • Meanwhile, back at Bryn Euryn, Heddwyn has successfully secured a link with a seagull and diverted it toward the Irish. There, he determines there are really two groups present, not one, and they split apart, the larger clearly intending on grounding west of Bryn Euryn while the smaller continues east, likely intending to sweep around the village and grounding away from it.
  • From Rhodri’s, they ride to Lord Brochfael … and find that he and his warriors are gone! None of the manor servants know where he went, only that he returned from the council late that night and then headed out soon after. Angus and Gwion are both able to pick up tracks and the latter insists he can track these men; with no reason (necessarily) to distrust Brochfael, Bradan instructs the archer to do that and advise the errant lord of their dire need for his forces. Privately, he also instructs Gwion to report back immediately if he discovers something hinky. The archer nods and heads out.
  • From there, they march to Lord Serigi, who is waiting for them and declares that he will join his warriors to this only if Baron Owain agrees to restore him to the Council, thus firing Heddwyn. Barely controlling his temper, Bradan snarls a threat at the lord – there will be no politics here. They are facing utter obliteration. He will pledge his men to this or he will be counted an Enemy who is fair game after the Irish are stopped. Serigi quails before this and relents, but Bradan knows he has made an enemy this day.
  • Back to the village they ride where the troops begin assembling and they learn of the division of Irish forces. Realizing that the enemy are not beaching at the village and attacking, it is decided that Rhos will march to meet the larger of the forces in the west while Adaryn delays (somehow) those in the east.
  • The Rhos warband begins to assemble…now they go to war.

GM Notes:

  • Last session was the Meadhbh & Echo show, what with the long fight – this week, it was all Bradan who was driving everything. Although none of the players have complained, as a GM, I’m persistently frustrated that some people just don’t have anything to do.
  • The chase in act 1 was not entirely planned … but neither was it wholly unexpected. Great thing about GURPS Chases – you can drop them in anytime and everything still flows nicely.
  • When intimidating Lord Serigi, Bradan rolled a 3, likely causing the older man to soil his clothes in potential terror, given Bradan’s dual reputations (ruthless against those who are his enemies and a capable war-commander.)
  • Sending Gwion off after Lord Brochfael gives me an excellent jumping off point for next week.
  • Funny moment: Bradan’s player, when his character and Marcus are reunited described the following (transcribed): “Bradan will look over and not believe his eyes at first. He’ll blink. Then he’ll do the cool walk over to Marcus. He’ll stop in front of him, then look him up and down like he can’t believe his eyes. Then he’ll give Marcus a big hug and whisper in his ear, “The dead should remain dead.” He’ll step back, revealing the blood-soaked knife that he’s just thrust into Marcus. At which point, Bradan will blink and shake that thought off.” Made many of us laugh.