Outlanders (2000)

Overview

What it is, where it came from, and what I was smoking at the time :)

Outlanders (it had no sub-title at the time; I now refer to it as "tolemaC" to differentiate it from others using this setting) is a non-standard fantasy campaign, set in a Dark Ages quasi-historical period, using contemporary Characters who accidentally “time/world-jump,” retaining some of their modern technology and gaining new magical powers in the process. In a Stargate-like story, PCs would meet strange people, and strange creatures, while being forced to limit their “open” use of technology, as much to conserve their limited resources as for fear of ill-will from the locals, who consider “technology” to be evil (much as real Medieval Christian folk thought of witchcraft). In addition to the expected “culture shock,” they also have to come to terms with the existence of magic in the world, and in themselves as they discover the limits of their new powers.

The original campaign was intended to be “cinema-based.” The pacing and structure of each Session was to represent a single episode of a TV series, with each 6-Session run representing a TV season. Although not technically a part of the Daniverse, as an actual event, it was featured in the “Replacement Miners” adventure (in the S³M setting), as a collection of “video recordings” of the Outlanders TV series.

Dramatis Personæ

Who played who, who they met there, and who tried to kill them

Player Characters


Luck

Zak

David

Alex
Ensign Robert Ian “Luck” Luckabaugh III (Phil)
Represented by Caspar Van Dien (Ref: Starship Troopers). SEAL Ensign(O-1); Age: 25. From a long military family, first not in the Army. Got SEAL training in his orders, straight out of Annapolis into the SEAL program. Has been in the SEALs for a couple of months before this op. The God complex normally instilled by the Academy didn’t seem to stick. New Powers: Super running and stamina (GURPS: Heroic Running+1, Doesn’t Fatigue, Enhanced Time Sense)
Chief Petty Officer Zachary “Zak” Thomas (McNurlen)
Represented by Kurt Russell (Ref: Soldier). SEAL NCO; Age:40. Enlisted in 1990. Too young for ’Nam, was in Desert Storm, as well as several “lesser known” ops. Career military, this was his 23rd year and he was about to retire. Has one daughter, who, just before he left on this op, expressed her undying hatred for him. New Powers: Uncontrollable Temporary Super Strength (GURPS: Hyper Strength, uncontrollable)
David Cryer (Esque)
Represented by Seth Green (Ref: Idle Hands). Age:21. Intelligent but completely unmotivated. Son of rich parents. Straight-A student, but only because he could instantly memorize test answers if he saw them. Sent away to try to get him motivated to go out on his own instead of mooching off his parents for the rest of his life. Avid D&D player and musician. In biology class with Alex. New Powers: Natural (untrained) Spellcasting (GURPS: Magery, Natural Spellcasting, Arete)
Alexandria Stone (Susan)
Represented by Eliza Dushku. Age:24. Only daughter of a Montana survivalist, conspiracy-kook father. Mother left them 10 yrs ago. Father died 6yrs ago from cancer, which he blamed on gov’t and doctors. Went to France to study linguistics due to her language talent. In biology class with David. New Powers: Celtic-style Shapeshifting (GURPS: Knack: Celtic Shapeshifting (spell), Regeneration, Animal Empathy)
Later Addition:
McNight (Mark)
Represented by ? Mark was away on TDY with the Air Force at the time the campaign started, but showed up for the end of the run. His character was a SEAL, as best I can remember, but the character isn’t in my notes for some reason, so I don’t remember any of the details. New Powers: Dark vision (GURPS: Dark Vision, Light Sleeper (had problems sleeping, as he could see the backs of his eyelids when his eyes were closed))

Major NPCs

PC Allies:
  • Bri (Fairuza Balk). Daughter of Gann, first human PCs meet.
  • Gann (Anthony Hopkins (w/ long hair, Ref: Instinct)). Outcast nobleman, friend of Llendrauf, tasked to help PCs.
  • Llendrauf (AKA Myrrdin) (“Merlin-Excalibur”). AKA Merlin, PCs Magus guide
Eoffingtun Notables:
  • Cynric, Son of Cynwulf (Dragon-Heart) (Vladimir Kulik (Ref: 13thW)). Lord of Eoffingtun, destined to become high king of Tamræ
  • Smydred (James Hetfield (“Black” album-era)). Cynric’s thegn
  • Beomær (“Tank-The Matrix”). Cynric’s thegn
  • Offgar (Christopher Lambert (Ref: Highlander-flashbacks)). Cynric’s thegn
  • Wulfric (Ewan McGregor (Ref: SW:TPM)). Cynric’s thegn
  • Nomolus(Ed Wasser (Ref: B5)). Cynric’s thegn, dockalfen agent in disguise
  • Athalred (Jason Connery). Cynric’s thegn, replacement for Nomolus
  • Godsige (Billy Crystal (Ref: Miracle Max-Princess Bride)). Town wizard, secretly a shaman of the “old gods”
  • Father Gregory of Whitby (“1st Lord-Braveheart”). Town priest to the Nine
The Baron’s Men:
  • Baron Carados (Clancy Brown (Ref: Highlander)). Lord of Baddanbyrig Hundred, Cynric’s lord
  • Scelios (Adrian Pasdar (Ref: Heroes)). Carados’ Magus advisor
  • Artos (“Drake-Aliens”). Carados’ thegn, nephew
  • Elfward (Henry Rollins). Carados’ thegn
  • Hrothgar (Jake Busey). Carados’ thegn
  • William (David Schwimmer). Carados’ thegn
  • Ered (Stephen Dorff (Ref: Blade)). Notes: Carados’ thegn
Other Notable NPCs:
    Elsebeth (Olivia D’Abo (Ref: ConanII)). Carados’ daughter
  • Bayran ((Voiceover, initially) Lani Tupu). Erlking (goblin) leader
  • Olen Long-Wind (Peter O’Toole). Wandering bard

Execution

What I planned to do, and how I planned to do it

The pacing and structure of each individual session was intended to have a TV series-like feel, as each run was meant to represent a TV series “season.” I went with a six-episode “season,” based on previous experience (with Apocalypse). I split each Session into five “Acts” as per usual script/play-writing, but this campaign occurred before I started breaking Acts down into “Events”; I just tried to be realistic about how much could be accomplished in one night. In the second attempt at running this campaign, I was going to abandon the “cinema-based” element entirely, switching to a continuous, Event-based method.

The Players chose their Characters from a list of archetypes that I provided. Although the Players did the bulk of the Character creation, I did provide a great deal of oversight, to make sure everything that was needed was had. I created the list with the Players in mind, having a pretty good idea who would be playing which Character. For the most part, I was right, except that Phil (having been in the Army) took the “Green” Officer character, and McNurlen (having never been in the military) took the “Veteran” NCO character—I had intended for it to be the other way around. It worked out okay, anyhow. I decided at the time to start the game “in the cave,” rather than starting them off during the “rescue attempt” and leading them to the cave; though I would’ve liked to surprise them in that way, I figured the Characters might end up being less-than-optimal for the campaign if the Players were under the mistaken impression that it was to be a “contemporary” campaign (I had run into this very problem before, with a pre-made adventure sending contemporary Characters to medieval Japan—one of the Characters ended up with a lot of gun-related skills that were completely useless). If I recall correctly, I based the Powers the Characters gained on aspects of the Characters themselves, along with a shorter version of my questionnaire, having them name the top 3(?) Powers they would want—I’m pretty sure I did this separately, so as not to spoil the surprise, but my memory’s pretty fuzzy on the details. Another relatively unique aspect of this campaign, with regard to the Characters, is that they did not start at the same point totals. The soldiers started at a little over 200 points, and the civilians at 150 or so. Of course, once they got their new Powers, then their point levels were balanced out.

I normally try to record what happens in the game, for the Synopsis. I did something a bit different this time, in addition. At the end of each Session, I passed around the “Journal,” having written a few words myself for the Session’s entry, and had each Player add their own (Character’s) thoughts, as if they were all one person writing the journal—to add a more-personal touch to the Synopsis record. I also did the “Epic,” which I wrote, myself, one stanza at a time just before each Session; it was intended, as much to hone my own poetic and improvisational skills, as it was to present the later “historical” perspective of what was occurring around the Characters—just a little extra, that didn’t really mean anything.

I did a great deal of research for this campaign. I already had some gaming-related literature to draw from, including GURPS:Celtic Myth,, GURPS:Vikings, AD&D Vikings Campaign Sourcebook, Dragon Magazine, Issue #257 (Dark Ages article, which heavily inspired this campaign)—this was before the re-release of GURPS:Middle Ages I (I was never able to obtain a copy of the old one) and the realease of GURPS:Low Tech, both of which would’ve been very useful. The most difficult research hurdle for me had to do with the economy, and the “structure” of land-ownership and the Feudal system. There were a couple of really good articles in Pyramid Magazine on “Medieval Economy,” as well as a few web-sites (that I wish I still had links to)—but the bulk of what I was able to gather came from the local library. Many hours, as I recall. I did a great deal more reading than I normally would, including the novel that inspired the movie, The Thirteenth Warrior, along with Beowulf itself (though I didn’t finish, for reasons I can’t recall). I really wanted to get the right “feel” for the setting—I would’ve learned some Old English if I could’ve found the time. Anyone planning to follow in my footsteps, here, should breathe a heavy sigh of relief, knowing that I am making available much of my research on this web-site (GMs Only section).

It is important to note, for potential GMs, that there is quite a large back-story to this campaign, so that the Synopsis barely scratches the surface of it. It was my intent to end the campaign after several runs (nine, I think), with the PCs becoming world-renowned heroes, having participated in epic battles and such. I had a point-level plan for the Characters, intending them to end the campaign at (I think) 750pts; my per-Session XP awards were based on achieving that amount by the end.

Some Specific Issues
  • As with my previous attempt at fantasy, I intended to make my inevitable dungeons and traps more realistic. In this case, the bit with the goblin tunnels was intended to be a standard dungeon-crawl. I designed the traps and secret entries they encountered there as if I were making them myself, with the materials and techniques available. In this particular instance, I took inspiration from the Vietnam Conflict, and the North Vietnamese tunnel networks.
  • The GURPS rules indicate that although many animals have a high strength score, they are not intelligent enough to make full use of that strength, except in “emergency” situations; hence, the comparatively low damage dealt from their natural attacks. Mid-game, after some initial disappointment with the damage being done, I ended up ruling that Alex, when shapeshifted into a particular animal form, would be able to use that form’s strength to its full advantage (at the same risks listed for the “emergency” usage, with regard to possible self-damage) when appropriate. Ultimately, this allowed her to do the full possible damage in tiger-form, as if a normal tiger were wounded and/or cornered; her gorilla-form allowed her to use the creature’s strength fully all the time, as its form is sufficiently similar to human.

Synopsis and Extras

Where the Players went, who they saw, and what they conquered

Synopsis

Ep01, Strangers in a Strange Land:

ACT I: 12 Eostre-Month(Apr), 1076AC
PCs Woke up in cave to warm blast of air (it was winter when they arrived at the cave). Everyone was a little foggy-brained and felt like they’d slept for a week.  Anything that used batteries was dead, wind-up watches were stopped but were re-wound. All food except MRE’s was decayed beyond recognition. They tried to reach the rendezvous point, a 10mi march taking all day.  Halfway there, their heads began to clear and they began to realize that everything had changed (i.e. they haven’t come across any roads, or any sign of civilization when they should have). Terrain features on the military map matched up, but none of the trappings of civilization were there.
DUSK: Mostly clear
They reached the place that should have been the rendezvous point. They found a coastline where the meeting place should have been. Water is clear, like Caribbean, but with temperate vegetation. PCs set up camp for the night. That evening, as the half-moon rises, they notice it looks a bit larger than it should, according to David’s recollection of astronomy, which also indicated that the stars were in a “spring” position, rather than winter.
NEXT MORNING: Storm brewing
5-foot cliff +beach at old waterline. Cloudy, impressive cumulonimbus looming overhead, seemingly from out of nowhere, wind picking up. Down the coast a bit, find human tracks leading from a nearby tide pool in the direction of Gann’s place, tracking check revealed tracks were 30min-1hour old, small humanoid, ≈100lbs. Bri spotted hiding in bushes, watching PCs, Bri drops bucket, runs away. Luck gives chase, discovering his abilities, and catches her, only to have her give him the slip. Luck trips as she does, allowing the other PCs to catch up to him. Rain starts. PCs hear scream, Bri surprised by a young ogre. PCs start by shooting the ogre. As he charges the PCs, another emerges to their right. Alex discovers she can turn into a wolf, and David discovers his spellcasting ability, as casts Apportation. Both ogres killed. Bri says, in belabored English, “Are you technomancer?…But you speak English?” She suggests they go to her place, talk to her father

ACT II-III:
MIDDAY: Light rain
Gann’s place, Gann offers hospitality, but is suspicious. Bri mentions ogre attack, PCs confirm. Alex IDs language as an unknown dialect of Old English. Gann doesn’t recognize “feet” as a measurement. Gann tells about ogres, mentions that they travel in packs and will most certainly discover the village and destroy it, that they are considered mindless brutes, and that they aren’t indigenous to this area. Gann suggests alerting the town, but need proof since ogres don’t normally come this way, and no one would believe him otherwise, must go back to scene and get proof. Gann tells PCs about technomancy, that English is the language of technomancers, suggests they try to blend in.
DUSK: Clouds part just enough to allow the moon to show through
PCs+Gann return to scene to find the whole ogre pack, 10 adults plus a few children, muddling about, some sleeping. PCs attempt to retrieve proof. Gann suggests they remain downwind. Ogres demonstrate very limited communication, gestures only. PCs tell Gann to stay back, but he sneaks up beside them anyway. Ogres are seen to be picking up a scent from a piece of cloth, IDd as part of Bri’s cloak. Gann suggests a distraction while another goes behind and cuts off a horn. Luck sneaks up, kills one, wounds another and runs, Alex keeping up behind ogres in wolf form, leads them on a chase for several miles, while Zak gets horn.&nbsp Return to Gann’s place to regroup
NEXT MORNING:
Gann sends Bri to fetch the PCs some clothing from town and tell about attack, returns saying they want to see the “strangers” and hear their account; PCs go, Gann introduces them to Cynric and thegns. Father Gregory shows up, says no one should listen to Gann due to his heresy, but is eventually backed off by Alex/wolf. Runners sent to baron for help.
AFTERNOON: Raining lightly
Runners to the baron return with news that the baron doesn’t believe the report, saying that they never come out this far north. Village sends scouts. David tries to contact Godsige to no avail.

ACT IV:
Scouts return confirming ogres approach, and expressing urgency, say they tried to lead them away but not expecting it to delay them for long, Cynric says to get everyone inside the fort. Village retreats to the fort, including livestock, prepares for defense. Townsperson tries to get Alex to stay back with the women (while, for a short time, she was in human form). All named village NPCs are present.  Gann not supposed to be allowed in, but Cynric lets him in anyway after a desperate argument with Gann, amidst protest from Bro Gregory and some of the thegns, specifically Nomolus
  • TURN1:
    Villager spots 4 ogres emerging from the woods to the NE. Ogres spend the turn roaring, threatening and generally demoralizing the village. Fighters flock to the NE side. Most villagers keep out of sight, fighters make intermittent pop-up bow attacks. Ogres approach to within 50yd of the NE wall. PCs suspect a flanking maneuver.
  • TURN2:
    Ogres begin intermittently charging the wall, head-butting, doing some minor damage. Fighters attack with spears. Ogres not charging take swipes at fighters on the wall, breaking spears, pulling a couple of peasants off the wall and pulverizing them. One seriously wounded, another with minor wounds.
  • TURN3:
    Seriously wounded ogre goes down. As ogres NE team backs off a bit and start to circle to the N, 4 more ogres sprint out of the S woods, roaring, and make a beeline for the S gate, taking turns charging it at full speed. As the villagers sprint to defend the gate, the NE team returns quietly and begins trying to climb the wall.
  • TURN4:
    S team breaks the gate and gets bottlenecked. Cynric faces down one by himself and kills it, lose several villagers. NE team gets inside. The few fighters that stayed on the NE wall manage to kill another, and wound another, leaving 2 functional.
  • TURN5:
    All but 2 ogres are dead, last 2 attempt to flee through the gate into the S woods.
Casualties: 8 peasants dead, 5 lightly wounded, 5 seriously wounded; Smydred and Wulfric are mildly wounded. Churchmen tend to the wounded.

ACT V:
EVENING: Clear
Baron’s men show up, including Elfward and a few extra thegns, marvel at the carnage, say he changed his mind after the runner left. Cynric asks who will speak for the PCs as their leader, rewards the PCs with a fine, bejeweled sword recovered from one of the ogres, and invites them to stay in his guest quarters this night. Offgar obviously a little jealous. Funeral pyres for the dead

Ep02, Letter of the Law:

ACT I:  17 Eostre-Month(Apr), 1076AC
2 DAYS AFTER EP1, MID-MORNING: Partly Cloudy
PCs staying with Gann, learning about the world from Gann. David is with Godsige, who finally let David in, told him the basics, said he’d teach him “to keep him from turning anyone he knew into pigs or something.” Runner comes to PCs/Gann, says their presence has been requested at the hall, Gann suggests the PCs will find David at Godsige’s. Cynric doesn’t know what’s going on but doesn’t like it, as the baron’s men are here, and he doesn’t trust the baron. Nearly all important townspeople are there. Father Gregory shows up. Baron’s men arrive (including Artos, Hrothgar and several extra thegns), announce that the PCs have been accused of being technomancers and should be judged by the church. Association with Gann, a known technomancer, is the primary evidence, along with a couple of “witnessess” saying they had seen them using tech, obviously pressed into speaking out against the PCs. Father Gregory says he has spoken to the baron and the baron agreed that they should be tested at the Tree. Cynric/sympathetic types obviously disturbed by this. PCs, Cynric, Baron’s men and Gann(translating) all journey to the Burning Tree for test
MIDDAY: Partly Cloudy
Burning Tree is a small tree in a hill-clearing that appears to be on fire, but is never consumed and produces no smoke. Gann relates that it is said that if a branch of the tree is held by a righteous man it will continue to burn, but if it is held by a technomancer, the fire will consume the branch. Test administered. PCs individually go to the tree and pluck off a twig. The fire puts off no heat or smoke. When the branch is removed, after a time, it begins to smoke and heat up, as the stick is consumed by the fire. David learns Ignite Fire to keep his branch from going out but it doesn’t work. Cynric painfully agrees, declares they should be banished, rather than executed, due to Ep1 help. On the return journey, Cynric takes Gann aside and speaks to him. Gann informs the PCs that Cynric wants Gann to take care of them, and that he will try to appeal to the Eorl.

ACT II-III:
EVENING: Light thunderstorm, cold front starting a small cold-snap lasting about a week
PCs brought before village assembly, officially banished. Return to Gann’s place
NEXT DAY: Cloudy, wet, sun poking out occasionally
Gann tells PCs they must go seek out the wizard Llendrauf to clear their names. Tells them Llendrauf generally appears whenever he goes to a certain grove a half day’s journey away, sometimes takes weeks to show up. Gann does not go with, not wanting to leave Bri alone for so long. Grove is identified by a ring of old ash trees, with a standing stone carved with runes. Runes describe the stone as a grave marker. PCs travel until evening, arrive at grove, set up camp. Faerie sighting along the way, some unidentifiable birds & such
MIDNIGHT: Clouds clearing, 3/4-moon revealed
PCs hit by goblin raid in the middle of the night. 10 Goblins, unarmed except for some clubs. Goblins begin by a couple sneaking into the camp while most are asleep. Once discovered, the sneakers sound off, alerting the others to attack. They fire off a flurry of attacks but retreat when the PCs kill a couple. PCs recover 5 shillings worth of loot, and capture one goblin. Re-camp away from the grove.
NEXT MORNING: Overcast, w/small bits of sun poking out
PCs wake up to Llendrauf looking about the grove, PCs approach, speaking English, asks about Gann’s whereabouts, knows who they are. PCs tell of goblin raid, Llendrauf suggests they warn Gann, offers to do what he can to help clear their names. Llendrauf says that the tree always consumes when a branch is removed, that it is merely used when someone has already decided someone’s guilt. He believes someone wants them out of the picture but he doesn’t know who. PCs return to Gann’s place, arrive before dusk, captured goblin in tow.
MIDDAY:
Gann goes to village with news of goblins, captured goblin as evidence, returns, says they’ll send a hunting party to seek out the commune.
AFTERNOON:
Hunting party, consisting of Smydred, Offgar and Wulfric, passes by Gann’s, gets directions. Some PCs follow and are not spotted. Hunters encounter goblins, the goblins scatter, leaving the nest. Hunters look around and leave. PCs check the area. Nest evidence consists of droppings (goblins nest in a circle, defecate outside circle) and beaten down areas where they have slept, some trinkets. Tracking check reveals that everything looks somehow deliberate, also some boot prints (goblins aren’t known for wearing boots). Thegns return that evening, say they think they’ve discovered evidence of the commune, about 15-30 goblins, going back tomorrow with more help, wanting to attack during the day when they are less active. They aren’t expecting much trouble. Middle of the night, Llendrauf shows up at Gann’s, warns that hunting party will get its ass kicked, that the nest they found was deliberately placed to fool them, that the nest is more like hundreds, rather than tens, Cynric is going along, the PCs must follow them and protect Cynric. Llendrauf explains that Cynric is destined to become High King.

ACT IV:
NEXT MIDDAY: Overcast, patchy fog
Alex, in the form of a swan, approaches Cynric alone, warns of the trap. Gann suggests they follow at a discreet distance. David arms his staff with some Apportation and Ignite Fire spells, incurring a small backlash that causes a ring of mushrooms to grow around his feet. Godsige casts Bless on David. Hunting party consists of Cynric, named thegns, Athalred, and a few red-shirts. PCs are discovered, some (Artos, Offgar) refuse to work with them, some want them to join (Wulfric, Beomær). Ultimately, Cynric allows them to tag along “unofficially.” David notices Cynric’s magic sword. PCs/Hunters reach nest area, cave complex in a rocky draw, obscured by a patch of fog. Visibility is reduced to 15yd due to fog. Only 5-10 are visible at first. Some goblins armed and armored (20ish, with Roman-esque equipment, shortswords and ring-mail, suggesting that they are trained). Sentries bark an alarm as hunters approach. Luck, hiding forward of the hunters, shoots a Sentry with his silenced pistol, splattering its head. Combat begins.
  • TURN1:
    Fight begins with Smydred’s trademark war-cry. Smydred, Cynric, Offgar, Nomolus, Athalred online in front charge forward, Beomær and Wulfric follow up with spears, red-shirts also open up with slings. Sentries charge forward, attacking with their shortswords, as sleepers begin to stand up behind them. Alex, in boar form, tries to gore a few. Luck holsters his pistol and draws his sword. Zak kills one with staff. David grounds his staff and readies Gann’s bow, which he was holding for Alex. Nomolus and Cynric make contact, Cynric taking off his opponent’s head, the magic sword catching its body on fire.
  • TURN2:
    A group of 15 previously-sleeping goblins attempt to scale the side of the draw and get behind the party. Several other previously-sleeping goblins start pitching rocks at the hunters. Athalred takes a light hit to the leg, others hit but absorbed by armor. Luck attacks. Alex turns into a rhinoceros. Zak hit in the leg. Nomolus makes it look easy. Smydred goes all-out, killing 2.
  • TURN3:
    Flankers get full move around, halfway there. Fallen Sentries are replaced by non-armored, others are crowding forward trying to get into the action. Some start climbing up to get into a position to jump down on the hunters. One unarmored gets through and grapples/bites Offgar in the leg. One mook struck in the head by a rock and stunned. Alex—as a rhino—charges through the line, trampling many goblins and breaking their line. Luck moves to intercept the flankers. David draws a bead on the flankers. Rearguard begins to shift around to meet the flankers. Nomolus, Cynric take another, Cynric’s sparking wildly against it’s armor, frightening those nearby.
  • TURN4:
    Some fallen are replaced. 2 unarmored manage to grapple/bite Offgar, 1 on Athalred, 1 on Smydred, attempting take-down. 5 jump behind front line tackling 2 mooks, one lands on Wulfric’s spear. Flankers arrive at flank. Retreat sounded. Alex turns back into boar, turns around, starts chasing goblins. Luck attacks flankers. David cripples a flanker’s leg. Mooks pull swords, set for flankers. Beomær throws spear at flankers, hits 1, fast-draws sword. Nomolus, Cynric, Smydred, Athalred take down 1 ea.
  • TURN5:
    4 total grappled on Offgar, manage to drag him to the ground, doing some damage. Flankers 3 per mook, 7 on PCs, 4 tackle Beomær. One mook clubbed and unconscious. Zak pumps up, severely wounds 2 of Offgar’s attackers, sending them flying. David boxes one, stunning it. Luck kills some more. Wulfric moves to help Offgar, killing 1. Nomolus all-outs, kills 2 and hit once. Smydred all-outs, kills one and is hit twice. Cynric kills one, sets it on fire. Mooks take down a couple w/ axes.
  • TURN6:
    Goblin attack completely dissolves, except for flankers. Remaining goblins make a parting shot and turn to run down the draw. David continues to box one, knocks it down. Luck kills some more. Zak kills some more. Alex arrives back at the front line. Front-liners turn on the ones to the rear. All kill 1 ea, tot 6 go down.
  • End Combat
Remaining warriors give chase. Beomær, Offgar, Athalred and remaining mook are injured enough that they stay behind. Luck and Zak give chase. Luck loses sight of one as it disappears in the trees. Warriors giving chase return saying they kept up for a bit, but goblins outran and disappeared completely into the forest/fog. Hunters begin looting. Alex tends the wounded. Luck stays behind, watching. Everyone else goes home.

ACT V:
Luck arrives at Gann’s as runner approaches to summon them to the hall. PCs banishment annulled by Cynric, no one is to speak of it. Cornelios tends wounds. PCs made honorary thegns to Cynric, to be sure they won’t be left out again as much as for a reward, Cynric vows that they will never again be allowed to be harassed by the church. Offgar offers a handshake. Nomolus obviously annoyed.  David bleeds off some paradox, reducing his ST to 5 for 5 days, and eliminating all body hair for a month.

Ep03, Wrath of the Gods:

ACT I:  27 Eostre-Month(Apr), 1076AC
5 DAYS SINCE EP2, MIDDAY: Overcast, some sun poking out here and there
PCs/Bri in village running errands for Gann, getting some dirty looks from farmer types. Zak and David go to the blacksmith, the other two to the butcher with a deer that Alex shot with the bow she made, Bri by herself. Zak/David spot Pendgar & Edwy obviously talking about them. Edwy picks a fight with Zak. Edwy, mostly a brawler, manages to land a punch or two to little effect, while Zak goes Bruce Lee on his ass, missing half the time but still looking cool. Nomolus ends the fight when Edwy’s chest is nearly caved in, taking him aside and whispering to him that now is not the time, no one noticing the apparent twitch that Nomolus has developed. Teressy tells PCs that crops are dying out suddenly, some believe Ftr Gregory’s assertion that the PCs presence responsible, that the gods are punishing them for harboring technomancers. David hits on Teressy. Alex flirts with Wulfric.

Cynric gathers the village leaders, including Nomolus, to discuss the problems, PCs invited to listen in. Farmers tell of their crops dying in the last week, on top of misc. goblin raids on outlying areas. Nomolus seems to lead the anti-PC/Gann faction. People complain that the goblins simply disappear into the woods after a raid. Father Gregory is there and expresses his opinion, which is that the PCs, along with Gann, are the principal cause. Cynric disses Father Gregory, says he will not dismiss them, that he’s sure some other force is at work here. Gregory storms out, just as a storm brews up. Cynric takes PCs aside, says they had better find out what’s going on, since Father Gregory is sure to get the sycophantic baron involved, but meanwhile, stay out of sight until this all blows over.

ACT II-III:
MIDDAY: Overcast and looking ugly, windy as hell
Gann suggests PCs hide out at his place, underneath the house if necessary. PCs hide stuff a bowshot away, consider hiding out at abandoned house close by. Alex turns into a sparrow and spies. Bri still in town. Baron’s men show up, about 20 strong including all named thegns, with Father Gregory, Nomolus meets with them. Artos speaks to Cynric, tells him to call an assembly. Baron’s men inform the people that the PCs are to be taken to the Baron, and that the soldiers will be “moving in” until they are found. After the assembly, the soldiers begin going about, being general assholes, to prompt villagers to spill the beans. None know where the PCs are. Bri/Alex informs PCs/Gann of Baron’s intentions. Gann says they can’t be seen with them either, at risk of their own lives. Soldiers show up at Gann’s, harass, PCs hiding a distance away. Artos presents his indecent proposal to Bri, says he’ll show up tonight to collect. Gann taken into custody, tied to a commandeered cart in the main square.

PCs visit farmer’s field, root about, Alex in wolf form. Alex goes to Gann in sparrow form.

PCs, minus Alex who is staying with Gann, make their way to Athalred’s farm, Luck going in while others watch at a distance. Guthred says that after a goblin raid was fought off by some workers, Nomolus and Smydred show up right after fight, hearing a commotion and going to investigate. Athalred’s older brother says a worker brought back a stone with a rune on it he found while digging in the fields, shows it to them, Davids IDs it as evil magic, but cannot identify marking. PCs keep the stone.

Make their way back to Harald’s farm, stashing the stone in a tree on the way. Same procedure as before. Harald not as happy to see them, says Wulfric and Beomær seen after the fight. Baron’s men spotted heading for Harald’s, Alex in sparrow form following. Luck spotted, bolts first through their formation, then into the woods. A couple dismount and follow but are unable to catch up, yelling that Gann will be freed if they come quietly.

PCs re-group, discuss plans. Luck allows himself to be captured, placed next to Gann. Alex, again in sparrow form, there to help. Overhear that Artos plans to break his promise. David and Zak forcibly remove Bri from her house to a bowshot away to hide.

Baron’s men gather up Gann, march him back home. Alex follows. Bri escapes, runs back to house, David/Zak join her. Luck escapes bonds, charges Elfward, runs to house arriving as the Baron’s men arrive.

ACT IV:
EVENING: Huge storm kicks up, lightning , heavy rain, some hail
Artos/buddies shows up to collect, Bri refuses. Artos leaves without fighting, saying that it’s too bad that he can’t be here to protect her. Just as Artos leaves, Zak about to prevent, Nomolus, invisible in the house, zaps all with Total Paralysis by wand. Nomolus materializes, leaves the house to Call Lightning. Alex enters house, tries to revive.

Luck intercepts, nearly sneaking up on him, Nomolus blocking sword attack with shield, Luck cuts off pendant revealing Nomolus’ true nature. Nomolus casts Burning hands, Luck dodges. Nomolus backs off, casts Globe of Darkness, Luck strikes in blindly, grievously wounding him, Alex in sparrow form flies over Darkness and turns into rhinoceros, falling, narrowly missing Luck. Nomolus casts Illusion of himself running away, Luck gives chase. Alex returns to house attempting to revive. Luck catches up, swings, discovers trick. Nomolus stands up, prepares to cast. Luck, returning, using the lightning as cover runs up behind, Nomolus unaware, swings, buries his sword in his torso, breaking his staff. Luck smells ozone, bolts, as lightning strikes body. Everyone stunned for a minute or two as previously paralyzed people return to good working order. PCs survey the damage, take body to Cynric.

ACT V:
NEXT DAY: Storm passed, somewhat cloudy, village badly waterlogged, river flooding somewhat
Baron’s men left in the night. More curse-stones found in Nomolus’ house. Cynric declares that the PCs are officially exonerated, has Nomolus’ head put on display.

Ep04, Price of Atonement:

ACT I: 30 Eostre-Month(Apr), 1076AC
2 DAYS AFTER EP3, MORNING: Mostly Clear
PCs approaching hall, having already been summoned, arrive to see a fight breaking out just outside the hall. Fight is broken up by Athalred, recently promoted to thegn to replace Nomolus. They talk to Cynric, who explains that daytime patrols have turned up nothing, and no one will leave the fortress at night. Tempers are starting to show strain. They haven’t been able to work the land for days now. Traveling merchant reports goblin raids in nearby villages throughout the Barony. Baron’s representatives have promised aid ASAP, going to the Eorl to get authorization to call up the war-band. Cynric agrees that they must be using tunnels, and they are too well organized to be acting on their own, must be Erlkings

Cynric sends Gann, with PCs help, to find the goblins’ leader, since he can’t leave the village undefended, with the intent of redeeming Gann in the villagers’ eyes, allowing him to return. Gann is chomping at the bit to get to it, since atonement has been his driving goal since being banished. All return to Gann’s place to start packing. PCs take pistols and hand weapons, Gann brings his sword. Gann suggests, since they haven’t been able to locate a tunnel entrance, they summon the Nairet. Bri begs Gann not to go, afraid he’ll be killed, then pulls Luck aside, tells him to watch out for Gann, not to let him do anything rash

Nairet summoned by purifying one’s self at a certain hot spring, placing an unspecified offering in a natural shrine there, and spending the night there. In the night, the Nairet would come in a dream and offer a favor for a favor. Party travels to spring, ½ day. Spring is the most beautiful place they’ve ever seen. Water is body temp, steams a bit. Hollow in the small cliff above the pool that looks like a shrine-type-thing, runes around it. David dreams that night, Nairet show the location of a tunnel entrance. PCs wake as Nairet disappears into the forest.

ACT II:
NEXT DAY: Clouds have passed, nice warm day
Party enters tunnels, David charging up his staff before they go. Alex tracks by scent, the most heavily trafficked route should be the most direct route to the goblin leader. No lights, David casts Continual Light on a few small stones, with which they replace the bulbs in their flashlights.

Tunnels start about tall enough to crouch down and move and wide enough for one. Wooden beams against walls evenly spaced throughout. Tunnel entrance contains access to several nearby unoccupied bunker/observation posts. Sight hole plugs can be seen.  Entrance tunnel dumps into a larger one going NNE and SSW, increasing in size to a couple of inches above PCs heads and wide enough for two to fit rather tightly. There are many more exit tunnels for a hundred yards or so, all resembling the one they came down. Occasional air shaft. Floors are metalled with drains along the sides. Scent leads to the S. 100yds from tunnel entrance, 6ft long/deep spike pit, plank on other side. Luck throws a grapple across and pulls the plank to them.

PCs encounter sentry post, on the inside of a turn just after spike pit, 3 sentries, scatter on sight. PCs travel to Spring hub, 1/2mi@≈1 hr. Travel Encounters:

  • Bedrock replaces road for some distance, occ. snakes.
  • Single-rock cave-in trap nearly drops on Gann’s head but misses due to Luck’s intervention, splitting the party. Zak lifts the stone, allowing the party to rejoin.

PCs reach the Spring Hub. Hubs contain an armory, storeroom, quarters for 10 or so Erkings, pens for about 100 goblins, latrines dumping into drainage system. Alex follows scent to plugged hole, PCs unplug. PCs travel to Draw Hub, 4mi @≈3hr20min, stopping to rest for about 20min. Encounter another sentry post, goblins scatter. Travel Encounters:

  • Bridge over subterranean river
  • Quarry
  • rope swing, sheer 10 ft wall
  • another cave-in trap.

PCs discover wall-plugs and proceed on the “safe” path. PCs arrive at Draw hub.

PCs travel to Eoffingtun Hub, 4mi @≈3hr20min. At the hub, Zak determines location of Eoffingtun. PCs travel to Kiymet, 4mi @≈3hr20min. As they travel, PCs blocked in as Sadik’s bunch enters from before and behind, having gone around outside, with about 10-20 “hounds” and a couple more handlers.

ACT III:
Sadik introduces himself and attempts a peaceful acquisition, tells PCs the chief wants to see them. PCs begrudgingly go along. Tunnels near Kiymet widen to allow 3-4 across, tall enough to stand with some headroom, occ. torch light. PCs brought to Erlking village, before Bayran. Bayran’s “hall” is lined with books (all stolen), candles and rich decorations, skull rack, weapons etc. He has a caged pet Kobold. Bayran excited to finally meet the heroes he’s heard so much about. “They say you come from the Otherworld. Is it true? I’ve even heard some say the gods themselves have brought you here.” Explains that the Baron and the Erlking have agreed to a battle tomorrow. They will steal Cynric’s sword tonight, to prevent him from destroying them. He is also kidnapping Bri to ensure the PCs cooperation. After the battle, both are to be given to the Baron as a peace offering. Says that winning gets him the authority to live above ground, and hints that he expects to lose the battle. Explains that he intends to detain the PCs to prevent them from interfering with his plans. He fully expects that they will escape their fate and attempt to stop their operations, but that they will only have time to stop one of them. Cynric will be vulnerable without his sword at the battle tomorrow. Bri will be in the hands of the Baron after the battle tomorrow. PCs are generally uncooperative. Bayran demands the PCs to give up their equipment, all of which will be kept here in his hall in a chest. PCs continue to resist, and Bayran rolls his eyes and tells them that the girl will be killed if they don’t cooperate, saying, “I can’t believe you’re making me do this!” He offers his word that she will be well treated while in his care. Luck and Zak palm their pistols. Luck rigs a smoke grenade to go off if his stuff is tampered with.

ACT IV:
When the Erlkings attempt to blindfold the PCs, make a break for it, they get netted, about 15 Erlking outside hall with nets and about 40 goblins swarm the PCs and pummel them, knocking out Alex and David, and tying them all up to chariots.  Sped to the death trap, actually driving them around a bit to confuse them. On arrival, they are unbound except their arms, and the trap is explained. Bayran is very enthusiastic, as if he’s showing off his favorite toy. PCs vow to get him back.

Party locked up, 12ft circular room with several holes in the top, no light, with only one heavy stone-block door opened by a rope/pulley system that must be held open (there is no locking mechanism) and takes a combined ST of 30 to move, more without the rope pulley. Water from a nearby underground river is diverted to empty into the holes in the ceiling, quickly filling the room with water, the levers for operation and for drainage being at the top of a long winding ramp lined with blow-fire traps and starting with a drop-wall trap. When water fills to a certain level outside the room, the weight of the water will set off the drop-wall trap, blocking them in, so if they get through the first, they’ll have to deal with the second. Was originally going to be a reservoir, but it didn’t work out.

Party escapes their bonds, Alex turning into a vulture to slip out and begin pecking at others’ bonds, Luck and Zak wriggling free. The water starts filling up about the time they escape, filling up fast and keeps filling after the door is cracked open. Zak pumps up immediately and begins lifting, with help from the others. Alex turns into a barracuda and zips under the door, at which point she turns into a swan and begins flying up the ramp. Luck goes under next, running up the ramp after Alex, dodging the fire-traps. David goes under next, about the time Luck sets off the drop-stone door, and casts Continual Light, while pulling the rope. Gann goes under and helps, while David casts Strength through his Natural Spellcasting, allowing them to pick the door up enough for Zak to get under. Luck reaches the top before Alex, both operate the control wheels, shutting off the water and draining the room.

David recognizes the tunnel, and that they haven’t gone far, and are near the village. They return for their equipment, finding the village empty, and filled with dissipating smoke. Their equipment is in Bayran’s hall. Gann doesn’t want to waste time getting the equipment, is being very impatient. Luck determines they should go after the sword, rather than Bri, and swears an oath to Gann that they will get her back later. Alex splits off, tracking Bayran and the other Erkings by scent.

LATE EVENING:
David can remember how to get to the place where Zak previously identified the way to Eoffingtun. Another 2 hr. PCs intercept sword capture team halfway to the Eoffindun Hub. Bri team already well down the other direction. Several chariots, fighting to hold them so the other team can escape.

After hearing them coming, Luck gets a snap shot off at a couple, severely wounding them, while Zak charges forward with his staff, taking out the chariot pullers in front, and engaging the drivers. David casts Continual Light in the air, and tries to cast it again to blind an Erking in the back, who successfully dodges. Zak exchanges with a driver, eventually killing him, while Luck tries to get his sword in the fight. David casts Hold Person on both the remaining Erlkings, and the others finish them off, keeping one alive. The living one tells that Bri will be killed if the PCs interfere, and is let go to tell Bayran what happened, and that there will be hell to pay.

Bayran, expecting to be followed, set out to confuse his trail, sending Alex into a loop. alex gives up and catches up to the others after the fight.

ACT V:
PCs gather loot, pull the chariots along with them. Emerge from tunnels, two exits in Teressy’s tavern, go to tell Cynric, return his sword. Baron’s man had already arrived, reports that they have discovered the goblin’s base of operations and sent an envoy to negotiate a truce, attempt was successful, single battle to settle matters tomorrow, noonish. Cynric offers the guest quarters, David spends the night with Teressy, having made a successful Sex Appeal attempt. Gann collapses from fatigue and grief.

Ep05, Disposable Heroes:

ACT I: 2 Three-Milks(May), 1076AC
DAY AFTER EP4, MORNING: Clouds gathering, foggy, damp
PCs wake up, after about 6 hrs of sleep, to Llendrauf standing in the door, about first light. Llendrauf gives David spell-book, tells him he wants it returned in the same condition it was given. He asks what the result of their foray into the goblin lair was. PCs notice him stepping out of the way of things that aren’t there, and are generally contentious.

Llendrauf “ghosts” as runner knocks on the guest house door, everyone keeping an eye on him to see if he would. PCs summoned to the hall, Cynric returning from the Baron’s place, obviously hurrying. Cynric complains that the Baron wants too many of his men for the fight. Cynric is going to propose to the Baron that Gann/PCs be allowed to join the war-band, to fill out his ranks, removing their banishment if they distinguish themselves in the battle.

Cynric dismisses church types, has Godsige come in and read runes for him, results say that a force from afar will help turn the battle, and “Watch for a friend that becomes an enemy, or enemy that becomes a friend—or both—I’m not sure which.”

PCs return to Gann’s to retrieve equipment, buff up. Luck discusses tactics with Smydred and Cynric.

ACT II:
Cynric’s contingent rides to the battle location at a gallop, takes a few hours, PCs are loaned horses for this purpose. PCs catch up on sleep in the saddle. In attendance: Cynric (leading), Smydred (#2), Beomær, Wulfric, Offgar, Athalred, Gann, PCs (10 total).
JUST BEFORE NOON: A great mist has settled over the battlefield, visibility 1-200 yds, wind picking up.
Battlefield is a large open field bounded by forest on one side and rocky terrain on the other. Baron’s army assembles, around 200 men, can barely make out the forest on the other side of the clearing due to the fog, Kiymet army nowhere to be seen. Baron obviously using “Roman” style tactics, forming into small “maniples”. Named Baron’s thegns hanging back. Cynric is set up on the left flank, a positions which annoys but does not surprise him. PCs have the principals pointed out to them.

Ealdfrith rides up to talk to Cynric, says the Barons has something special in mind for him.  PCs meet Ealdfrith.

Olen visits Cynric, taking down names and such; PCs meet Olen, who has heard a little of them, and explains that the Baron is planning to use the battle as a show of force for the future, and has invited bards to watch and see. Struggles a bit, trying to write while holding a lute, which David takes from him and plays “Stairway to Heaven.”

Baron rides up to Cynric, tells him of the flanking plan, to try not to be seen leaving, and agrees to Cynric’s proposal, much to everyone’s surprise. After he leaves, Cynric tells the PCs and comments that he looks to be in an ucharacteristically good mood.

Cynric takes PCs aside and asks if he has any last-minute tactical suggestions, Luck suggests a fall-back position, among other things. Cynric asks PCs to lead the unit into the woods.

Just before the group slips into the forest a murmur can be heard throughout the army as the mist rolls back revealing the Kiymet army, dwarfing the Baron’s army (at least 2-3:1). Cynric’s unit slips into the forest, PCs in the lead.

Alex, in tiger form, spots what appears to be a pack of goblins making their way to a flanking position. Luck signals to go after them, Cynric nods agreement. Alex and David take out two with bows, Alex in gorilla form. As PCs approach, 6 ogres 10 goblins and one Erlking “handler”appear, along with a shadowy figure noticed by Luck. An ogre or two looks familiar, scarred, probably leftovers from Ep1.

ACT III:
Starts with a war cry, first from goblins, then quickly after, the Baron’s army, both sides charging each other. Ogres go after PCs/Cynric/Gann as battle commences, goblins go after the rest, shadowy figure hanging back, watching. Alex wounds one with a buffed arrow, then drops the bow and resumes tiger form, going after others.  Luck makes a beeline for the shadowy figure, leaping at him only to be struck by a tree branch blown in the way by the wind. David casts Hold Person on the ogres, eventually freezing most of them. Zak charges the nearest ogre and breaks its leg with a mighty smash, felling it. Luck recovers from his fall to defend against an ogre’s spear, and returns the attack, mortally wounding it, and returns to his pursuit. Alex shreds several ogres. David casts Produce Flame and begins hurling flame-balls at the frozen ogres. Zak joins the other thegns battling the goblins. Luck is stabbed in the back by the mage standing in front of him, and after alerting the others to the mage’s presence, deals him a would-be killing blow that turns in his hand and strikes him with the flat of the blade instead. A second strike is caught by a tree branch as the mage disappears.

Cynric continues through the woodline to the flank, emerges from the forest slightly back and to the right of the enemy and engages. Cynric’s unit the only one to reach the back area  All Cynric’s men fight competently, many distinguishing themselves in the battle. David is wounded, but heals himself. A familiar (at least to David) cry goes up from the goblin ranks as they sound the retreat, all the goblins turn and run at top speed.

ACT IV:
Baron’s army pursues the Kiymet into the forest, Eoffingdun contingent pursues also. PCs corner Bayran and two of his minions, Bayran looking for an escape route, all-out defending while backtracking. David casts Hold Person on Bayran, who Sadik immediately scoops up and runs away, while Hamit covers the escape. Hamit exchanges with Luck, while David casts Hold Person on him. Alex leaps onto Sadik, pinning him and Bayran. As David releases Bayran from his hold, many goblins overrun their position, allowing Bayran to escape. Luck and Alex pursue, catching up to find Bayran frantically speaking to some other frightened erlkings standing around a depression that appears to have been one of their tunnel entrances, pointing to a human army attacking from their rear, erlkings scatter, except Bayran who surrenders to PCs by sticking his weapon into the ground and falling to his knees in front of it, hands out, offers to help get Bri back in exchange for asylum. Looks fairly desperate, due to the approaching mercenaries. As the others catch up, Luck asks David to give Bayran his amulet, disguising him.

Mercenaries arrive at PCs location, appear to be of Scandinavian origin. A leader speaks a little Old English will speak to Cynric. Cynric mentions that they’re Scanding mercs.

Battle results, looks like all the goblins were killed. Sadik or Hamit are among the dead. Survivors picking through the field, looting. General attitude is quite happy. Many question what the mercenaries are doing here, and how the Baron hired them. Cynric’s men survive with minor injuries, which David and Alex tend to. Army casualty status: 10 or so dead, 25 or so wounded. Everybody pretty happy with the results.

ACT V:
EVENING: Light rain
Celebration. Gann/PCs reinstated in village, Gann made Cynric’s reeve, PCs made thegns (officially), Ftr Gregory says “I’ll be keeping my eye on you” Cynric hands out awards, PCs get horses, 1 ea. plus a share of the loot. All invited to stay in guest quarters this evening. Olen present, talks to PCs about their experience.

Gann doesn’t look to be enjoying himself, getting smashed, says he’s worried about Bri. Gann insists they go after Bri before Baron does something to her in revenge for Gann’s success, Cynric offers whatever help he can.

Luck goes outside to discuss events with Bayran, who declines to join the celebration.

Ep06, Damsel in Distress:

ACT I: 3 Three-Milks(May), 1076AC
DAY AFTER EP5: Still kinda rainy and ugly, damp
Cynric and his retinue invited to Baron’s feast in about a week in celebration of the victory against the goblins. King Morgred and his retinue will be in attendance at the proceedings. Cynric comes over to the guest quarters as PCs are packing up to leave, discusses PCs plans to rescue Bri, offers whatever he can without drawing attention to the mission. Gann insists on going. Bayran suggests they use the tunnels, stop by Kiymet on the way to check on his people and get some things.

PCs camo up, David with funny-face design. PCs travel to Kiymet, entering the tunnels through the floor of the hall. A couple of hours’ travel, using chariots, uneventful.

PCs arrive at Kiymet, place looks deserted save for a few wounded Erlkings who start when they see the PCs, Bayran goes to his hall. Bayran reveals that he struck a secret deal with the Baron in exchange for later inclusion, that the battle was staged and he and his army were to have escaped but the Baron had double-crossed him, that he has no real idea why except that humans always mistreat Erlking, that all he wanted was to walk above ground without fear of persecution. Bayran owes PCs his life. Bayran says that Baron had insisted the PCs be killed, but that he allowed the PCs to escape in case of a double-cross, that he feared the necromancer might be able to tell if he had lied, kept some warriors behind also. Bayran offers PCs any stuff he has. Bayran has maps of the villa, somewhat accurate. Bayran takes PCs to a holding cell, releases McNight.

PCs discuss plans. Gann suggests they avoid implication, to prevent the Baron from reneging on his promise. Also offers that it would be a bad idea to kill any of the Baron’s people during the rescue. PCs study map and decide to go in through the rear, over the wall. McNight complains about civilian presence, David casts Hold Person and is subsequently scolded by Zak, Alex turns into a tiger and teases McNight.

PCs travel to Baron’s place using goblin tunnels leading to back door, trip takes a few hours. Tunnel sealed as Luck expected, have to find a way around, go to not-quite-finished (entrance not cut yet) new tunnel and dig out. Arrive, in early morning, just outside the city of Særpontium, Baron’s villa visible on the hillside above the town. Town is walled Roman-type setup.

ACT II:
0-DARK:30: Cloudy and humid, darkness -5
PCs approach villa. Alex scouts as owl, returns, relays that a few guards, inc. Hrothred, patrolling the courtyard occasionally, Ered +another guarding the gate, William at the hall’s entrance. PCs go over back wall. Alex learns where Bri was kept from local rats, goes there as a rat, discovers she isn’t there. PCs decide to enter residence, go in through kitchen side-entrance. Guards not very alert, workers/slaves asleep. Alex learns that Baron/Artos/Bri not present from local cat, learns that a girl is in nearby bedroom.  McNight and Luck enter bedroom, silence Elsebeth with anesthetic and kidnap, spirit her quickly to the tunnels.

PCs interrogate Elsebeth. She reveals, that they went to Scelios’ hidey-hole in the mountain early this evening. PCs return Elsebeth to her room, under anesthetic, injecting her with morphine before leaving.

PCs travel to Sanctum, Alex picking up Bri’s scent, find a well-hidden (from below) cave up the mountainside from the villa. PCs enter cave, exits about 35yd into the mountain, on the other side of which is forest, small stone keep of indeterminate construction visible in the distance through the trees.

ACT III:
LATER THAT MORNING: Weather clear, warm, unlike where they came from.
PCs exit cave, notice they are on an island, no mountain behind them, trail can be picked up outside the cave. Standing on a small hill giving a better view of the surroundings. Portal still present, bounded by an enruned a wooden frame, portal dissipates as they leave it. Trees weird/different. 200 yds to the keep, rocky and wooded, sloping uphill. David feels slight mental “eyes” on him.

PCs hear a call go out, Bayran recognizes and doesn’t like it one bit, tells a little about manticores, David recalling D&D stats. Gann tells of the fear thing. Manticores following the party looking for an opportunity. Alex, as tiger, and McNight spot them almost immediately. As PCs approach keep, manage to shoot and severely wound three, no party members touched.

20yd clearing around keep, colonnaded bridge crossing over moat surrounding keep. Guard is less than alert, turning around and shifting, and standing near an alarm bell in the gate-house on the PCs side of the bridge. PCs decide to sneak by, approach moat. Alex turns into bird, recons top, discovers no entrance. PCs sneak around to other side, in moat, determine no other way in. Alex distracts guard, as a cat, others sneak behind, David nearly giving them away. Alex retreats, turns into rat, scurries past guard and rejoins party.

Keep interior is poorly lit, lots of shadows. PCs overhear Baron talking to Artos in a side room, about what nastiness he’s done to Bri, says he’s already killed her, Artos leaves, Baron puts his face in a book or something, his weapons on a table behind and out of reach of him. Gann/Zak go after him just as Luck disbelieves. Bayran walks up and strikes illusion, dispelling it. PCs proceed downstairs.

ACT IV:
PCs enter “dungeon.” Guard watching from upstairs booth. PCs locate Bri’s cell, Alex as mouse, McNight and Luck approach, portcullis locked. Alex proceeds upstairs to booth as McNight attempts to pick lock. Alex determines guard upstairs has key, jumps across to booth, scurries under table, narrowly avoiding being stepped on. As guard’s back is turned, Alex turns into gorilla, breaks guard’s neck knocking him off the balcony. PCs get the key from the dead guard, just as McNight succeeds. Alex spots a lot of silver coins, hack silver, etc. in the room, grabs a few coins, intending to frame the guard. Bayran sees this as an opportunity to finance an army or something and starts upstairs, stopped by PCs.

PCs release Bri, Luck gets smooched, make their way up to ground level. PCs sneak to exit. Several guards wandering about upstairs, David giving them away but guards pretending not to notice. PCs about to go out the door, Scelios pops out of nowhere, grabs Bri, slaps a runestone to her head putting her mind in a loop, then Scelios opens a Hermes’ Portal in the floor just so he can drop Bri in, several manticores can be seen inside in a poorly lit cavern. PCs immediately attack Scelios, allowing him no time to give his intended ultimatum. Attacks against him are ineffective, except a single Magic Missile, Bri is immediately shoved into the hole. Scelios then begins defending himself, pointing a wand that he has in his other hand. Gann immediately dives in after Bri. Bayran looks at both, considering, for a round, then dives in after as well. All PCs except David go after Bri, David staying momentarily to duke it out with Scelios before he bolts. PCs dispatch manticores, some party members wounded.

SUNRISE: Clear, some clouds on the horizon
PCs emerge from the manticore den, David joins, says guards are chasing him, greatly fatigued, spot a couple of rowboats on the rocky shore, poorly camouflaged; PCs take boats

ACT V:
Llendrauf shows up on the boat, wakes up David, unweaves Scelios’ magick on Bri, recognizes a Cabal trick, says they were being tested, possibly trying to determine a weakness, says they will probably move the tower they were in, says it would be wise for David to study up on the Spheres, says he’ll have to look into this matter most closely. Llendrauf gates them all home, landing off the shore where the PCs met Bri. Llendrauf disappears. Gann suggests they keep the boats, carry them ashore.
EARLY MORNING: Cloudy, cool
PCs return to Eoffingdun, discuss what they have learned with Cynric, Cynric decides the king must hear of it when he comes. Bayran returns to his village.

Journal

November 14, 2010 -
We still have not gotten word from anyone from the underground, or from the US military forces. Some of us are beginning to lose hope in ever getting out of this war zone alive. We were surprised by a Socialist patrol today, forcing us to abandon our hiding place at the deserted farm. There were a series of caves nearby, so we made for one of them and camped there, successfully evading the patrol. The vehicles we had been using were destroyed, so it looks like we’ll be walking to the rendezvous point from here. As the adrenaline of the day wore off, we were all hit with a wave of fatigue. Since we haven’t slept in days, we decided to post a guard and attempt to rest. We’re freezing, as we are unable to make a fire for fear of discovery. At least we have shelter from the wind, here. I volunteered for the first watch to give myself time to write but I don’t know how much longer I can hold ou…
November 17? -
Everything has gone to hell. Something has gone terribly wrong. We’ve tumbled through a rabbit hole and found ourselves somewhere—or somewhen—else. The four of us have changed too, with—powers and abilities that realistically shouldn’t be. Monsters (I don’t know what else to call them) attacked a small town and we’ve helped defend it. Now if we can only find our way home. Nothing makes sense anymore.
November 19? -
We’ve been here for 5 days now. We’ve been staying with Gann, and have offered to help out around the place in exchange for his hospitality. Meanwhile, Gann is teaching us the culture and language of Tamræ, the kingdom we have apparently happened upon, while we tell him about our own, in turn. David finally got in to see the wizard, and has spent a lot of time with him, learning the basics of magic, if you can believe that. We’re trying to keep a low profile, but it has become obvious that some of the warriors are jealous of the attention that lord Cynric has been giving us. Father Gregory, the local parishioner, seems to encourage their ill-will—at least according to Gann. I hope they don’t do anything rash while we’re trying to get on our feet here.
November 23, 19? -
Llendrauf’s warning turned out to be quite true. We survived with minimal casualties, to us or the villagers. The goblins’ disappearance is still a mystery, however. We don’t like having an enemy in our back yard. We’re going to have to look into it. I get the feeling we’ll be seeing more of them in the days to come. David is beginning to realize the consequences of his newfound abilities. I wonder if the same thing could happen to the rest of us.
27 Eostre-month, 1076AC (14days) -
Using the local calendar now. Goblins have been performing random lightning raids on the outlying farms. Luck spent the last five days talking tactics with Cynric, while David spent them nearly bedridden at Godsige’s place. There seems to be some kind of drought or something. The farmers have been complaining of crop failures within the last week, aggravated by the fact that they can’t tend their crops due to the goblin raids. The boost our reputation received after our confrontation with the goblins seems to have faded somewhat. We suspect Ftr Gregory’s been speaking out against us again.
28 Eostre-month, 1076AC (15days) -
Yesterday was quite the day. Started with Zak nearly killing the blacksmith in a duel, then ended with Luck nearly cutting a dockalfen in half. Quite a day indeed. Now, if only we could find out what the Baron is really up to…
30 Eostre-month, 1076AC (17days) -
The village is under siege by the goblins, most villagers having moved their families within the palisade. Although they haven’t killed anyone yet, they have stolen quite a bit of property, killed livestock and made life generally miserable for the village. Cynric has been working with us constantly to find a solution. A decision will have to be made soon. Everyone swears it’s not always like this around here, but we’re beginning to suspect they’re all lying to us.
1 Three-Milks, 1076AC (18days) -
The goblins got us, but we got loose. And now, they’re gonna pay—and a few already did pay. The rest will come later. Now we have to prepare for the battle tomorrow. fter that, we get Bri, and get even.
2 Three-Milks, 1076AC (19days) -
Today it’s war. Some of us are no strangers to war, while the others are only familiar with it. Cynric has asked that we fight alongside him and his men. A full-scale battle with the forces of evil, led by Bayran—or is it the Baron? Should make for an interesting day indeed.
2 Three-Milks, 1076AC(19days, continued) -
The first major battle is over, but the war has just begun. With the goblins no longer a threat, we can turn our attention to the real threat - Baron Carados. The Baron plays a good game, but we play better!
3 Three-Milks, 1076AC(20days) -
We’ve spent the day preparing for our mission to rescue Bri from the Baron. Cynric has been discussing with Bayran the nature of his deal with the Baron, confirming many of our suspicions on the matter. The king of Tamræ is coming down to celebrate our victory in a about a week, at which point we will be officially exonerated. If the Baron is as underhanded as Bayran’s account suggests, he will have to make a move against us before the king arrives and he is forced to keep his promise. As long as he has Bri, however, we’ll have to be careful.

Epic of the Outlanders

Excerpts from Epic of the Outlanders, a work based on related bard’s tales compiled by Remo Marmara in 1487AC:

In the thousand years behind us,
  In the Cataclysm’s wake,
Myrddin, for to liberate us,
  Fought a battle for our sake.
While mankind was in its death-throes
  Myrddin then this plan unfurled.
Summoned four outlander heroes,
  Warriors from the Otherworld.
From the deepest sleep recovered,
   Ventured forth this warrior-band,
But they’d, as they soon discovered,
   Traveled to a foreign land.
There they met the lonely outcast,
   Noble, by the name of Gann.
Helped him halt marauding ogres;
  Foiled the monsters’ evil plan.
...
Those accused of technomancy,
  As the Law did clearly state,
Might be tested, by the clergy,
  At the burning Tree of Fate.
Thus, the heroes, judged and banished,
  Severed from their new-found land,
Were made victims of misfortune
  Fashioned by an unseen hand.
With the heroes so prevented,
  Cynric’s men might soon be dead,
Should the exiles fail to save them
  From the snare that lay ahead.
...
When the news had reached the baron
  Of the heroes’ welcoming,
So returned the baron’s war-men
  For them all to justice bring.
Village, plagued by goblin raider
  And a blight on farmers’ field.
Heroes, suspect, sought an answer
  So the land could then be healed.
If the baron’s men were able
  And the heroes then be caught,
Who would save the outcast noble
  From a killer’s murd’rous plot?
...
Now the heroes, vindicated,
  Must disperse the goblin horde,
Break the siege the village suffered,
  Put the bandits to the sword.
Gann the outcast set forth boldly,
  Reputation to repair;
So together, jaws set firmly,
  Entered they goblin lair
Underground, through toil and trouble,
  Sought they there the goblin king,
Could they learn the chaos’ cause and
  End the village suffering?
...
Cynric sought his wizard’s wisdom,
  And the rune-stones did display
Foreigners would turn the battle;
  Outlanders would win the day.
Cynric and his mighty war-band,
  Battle-ready, full of pride,
Rode to join the Baron’s army,
  Outland heroes by his side.
Banishment, to be recanted,
  So the Baron gave his word.
Would the Heroes win their freedom
  And defeat the goblin horde?
...
With the battlefield behind them,
  Bravely fought and bravely won,
The four Heroes could not tarry,
  Knowing what must next be done.
So, with grave determination,
  Set they forth to rescue Bri,
In a newly formed alliance
  With their former enemy.
Could the Heroes save the maiden,
  Sever off the serpent’s sting,
Sweep her from the Baron’s clutches
  Ere the coming of the king?
...

Aftermath

What went right, what went wrong, and lessons learned

Overall, I was left with the impression that everyone enjoyed the campaign (and forgave my many disastrous mistakes). I think I managed to achieve the “feel” I was looking for, in the end. I planned to continue the campaign—I don’t really remember why I didn’t, but I suspect it was “attendance-related” (as it often was/is).

I tend to like high-point-level campaigns and Characters. It doesn’t always work, though, and this was one of those cases. There really was no “threat” to the PCs in the campaign up to this point, and they just waded through. There really needed to be a greater “sense of mortality.” No doubt, this contributed to the fact that the PCs had no “fear” when it came to those hostage situations. I had designed the campaign so that the PCs would use their technology only sparingly, so as not to unbalance things too much. In retrospect, with the combination of their Powers, they were far too powerful for pretty much anything they came across (with the exception of Scelios, who could have been far more dangerous than he was). In specific, although Alex’s shapeshifting Knack worked out, points-wise, I think it could’ve used a bit more limitation, as it was a little unbalancing at times (given Susan’s rather clever usage in some instances)—I expect this situation might be a little different in GURPS 4e. Overall, I think I overloaded the PCs (as is common, for me) quite a bit, in relation to the threat presented. In the second attempt, I reduced the SEAL Characters to Rangers—far fewer points, and considerably less godlike (I’m sure Rangers would disagree ;)). In retrospect, I would find some methods to limit the use of technology (specifically guns) other than “cultural” (without eliminating them entirely)—further limiting ammunition or batteries, or making tech “fickle.” I would probably reduce the point-level of the Powers as well.

One of the most important lessons learned in this campaign was to never underestimate the “aggression” level of the Players. In several instances, I intended for the Players to see the “futility” of resistance, only to have them fly-off and attack, which I was not remotely prepared for. When they encountered the Goblin King, and he announced his kidnapping plans, they were very uncooperative and aggressive (while he was being very civil and diplomatic—how rude of them!), to the extent that, in my haste and frustration, I had Bayran command that she be killed (I ended up taking it back)—not my best GMing moment, as I recall. In another instance, when Scelios had Bri hostage, the Players wanted to immediately shoot him in the head—without giving him his chance to monologue, no less (the nerve! :)), made more frustrating by the fact that, realistically, they probably would’ve succeeded. In the first example, I ended up having them dogpiled by many Goblin soldiers in an attempt to subdue them, which worked out, more or less. The last example with Scelios, along with mistakes made in the following combat with him, totally threw me off track, to the extent that I could not continue and ended up finishing the Session by just reading off what happened—it was almost over anyway. A little more-prudent planning could have resolved both these cases in a workable manner. Although I say now that I have learned this lesson, it was a process that took a few more GMing attempts (and failures) to take hold.

While on paper, the combined D&D/MTA magic system worked, my understanding of the MTA side of it was still less-than-optimal at the time. As such, there were several instances where the Bad Guys’ (namely, Scelios) usage of the Spheres resulted in bewildered expressions of frustration and confusion from the Players. Since then, I have gained a much greater understanding of MTA, and along with the eventual release of MTA’s 3rd Edition (which was easier to understand, along with making some changes to the rules that made things a little more smooth), would have avoided most of that frustration.

After all the good work I did in designing the very clever dungeon traps and secrets, the PCs didn’t bother with them—inconsiderate bastards! :). In fact, they figured out the goblins’ bypass procedure pretty much off the bat, and skipped them all! To make it worse, I realized, after the fact, that I had forgotten to assess an appropriate (and very difficult, given the situation) darkness penalty to their attempts to spot these traps and such, which would have, no doubt, caused them to fail—at least a few more times. I still can’t think of how to fix this one, though (other than the “darkness” thing); the bypasses, realistically, needed to be there. I have, at least, learned to be more prepared for the Players to completely circumvent anything cool I have prepared for them.

The battle in Episode5 was my first use of the GURPS mass combat system. It went without a hitch, as I recall, and the Players seemed to enjoy it (especially those who were “covered in glory” at the end of it). Personally, though, I thought it was a little too abstract, and am continually attempting to refine it. On a similar note, a great many of the combat sequences, though long in real-time, were unrealistically short in game-time—a problem with the GURPS system I have yet to fully resolve.

Another Character-related situation I feel was a mistake was the application of XP. As it was, the Players were allowed to use them to improve Skills they had used, and such—pretty standard. The resulting problem was that they gained Skill a little too quickly, given the time-period involved. They were able to converse in Old English in a matter of weeks, and some became quite the prodigy with melee weapons they had never used before. In retrospect, I would have restricted the spending of XP to “realistic” periods of game-time, rather than a per-Session basis; their language Skills should have been raised automatically, without spending XP, according to the “study” rules (which would have made communication far more interesting in the meantime).

The journal idea, as a composite of all the Players’ thoughts, really didn’t work. A majority of the Players had no idea what to write. In retrospect, I would’ve had just one person (probably Phil, since he’d likely end up writing one anyway :)) handle the journal-writing.  Though I enjoyed the challenge, I don’t think anyone cared much about the Epic, and would leave that part out of a subsequent GMing attempt.

GMs Only

Downloads forthcoming

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