Classic Fantasy (Against the Darkmaster) - Search for the Orb of Silver Dawn
Episode 7

Is Kaylana there?

Is she alone?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Who is there?
Punish / Victory

Hmmm. Makes me wonder if it’s enemy soldiers? It’s by the docks and they have been trying to push into the city, so it’s possible, but
(Somewhat Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes

Okay... Is she alive?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Any dead bodies?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Were they friendlies?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Sounds like this is the situation...

Collan and Arnstein came to a modest home near the docks. Dead soldiers, defenders of the city, along with fallen attackers, lay on the street. In the distance, a block away, they heard the ringing sound of steel on steel, with shouts and cries.

The door to Kaylana's home was slightly ajar, a bowl of potatoes half skinned, spilled on the ground, along with a paring knife. The two soldiers looked at each other and Collan’s face went white. 

"Kaylana," he whispered, worry on his face.  

Arnstein drew his one-handed battle axe while Collan pulled out a short sword. Arnstein gripped Collan’s shoulder and put a finger to his lips.

They stepped cautiously into the home, Arnstein first, Collan following behind.

Round 1
Assessment Phase:
Perception vs Stealth
Collan Perception:
41 = 26[d100]+15

Arnstein’s perception:
84 = 54[d100]+30

For enemy soldiers. Are they stronger than a typical Hillman warrior?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Not by much. We’ll go with this.

Typical Enemy Warrior
Lvl: 2-ish, MR: 15L, Armor: LA, DEF: 20 TSR: 15 WSR: 15, HP: 55, Attacks: +55 Wpn / +55 Ran, CT: NH, Rog: 15, Adv: 15, Lor: 0

Is there more than one inside?
(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

There are others fighting just a block away, and who knows how that might influence things.

Vs Stealth of enemy soldier:
25 = 10[d100]+15

What is the soldier doing?
Persecute / Dispute

Arnstein’s stealth:
76 = 51[d100]+30-5


Arnstein and Collan moved into the home stealthily. Arntien’s axe scraped against the wall as they enter and they heard a man's guttural voice and a woman’s muffled whimper. A guttural shout and then a slap and a chair fell over into view on its side, bearing a woman, bound to it, with a cloth gag in her mouth.

(The complication was that they didn’t move quickly enough and she took some hurt. Superficial impact:
48 = 48[d100]

36-50 Beat to forearm. Drops weapon or shield. If they aren’t holding one, target Stunned.

Blow is to the head I think instead since she’s tied.)

Her face is bruised. Blood ran from a gash where her head hit the floor.

Dazed, she blinked unsteadily at Arnstein, then her eyes focused and flickered to Collan...Her eyes widened in recognition and hope, and she heaved against her bonds.

Action Declaration
A wicked serrated blade came into view, first its point then the rest of the blade.

(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Is the enemy soldier bloodthirsty?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

No, he’s scared, trapped behind enemy lines, and trying to leave.
Arnstein will engage him. 
Woman is bound and will struggle.
Collan will rush to aid her.

Move Phase
The enemy soldier, in leather armor and a longsword, shouted again and then turned the corner, jogging toward the exit, his face white. Arnstein raised his axe, intent on braining him as he passed. Since the enemy is surprised, he won’t be able to attack in the first phase. 

Arnstein didn’t hold back. Collan rushed to untie and assist his sister-in-law.

Spell Phase A

Ranged Phase A

Melee Phrase:
Technically the soldier would go first but he’s not aware is is trying to leave, so he’ll go in other phase.

Arnstein attacks (+20 for surprise, -20 for defense--enemy can’t parry)
199 = 94[d100]+105+20-20
20 hits and a lethal critical

53 = 3[d100]+50
Minor forearm cut. +4 Damage, 1 Bleed, and Stunned.

The man saw the flash of steel and reflexively raised his forearm, and his leather bracer took Arnstein’s heavy blow. The axe’s blade sliced through the hide and crunched into the man’s forearm in a splash of blood. He reeled from the pain and slammed into the wall behind him, sending a shelf of crockery smashing in white powdery shards.

Other phases...

Enemy Soldier (Medium human) – Level 2, HP 55, Damage 24, 1 Bleed, Stunned

Round 2
Action Declaration
The soldier will defend completely since he can't attack. He's stunned so only gets 1/2 CMB to parry.
Arnstein will attack completely.
Collan has the bonds cut and is pulling his sister-in-law free from the chair

Everyone is in their same places.

Arnstein goes first because the other man is stunned.

105-20 def -27 (half parry)
103 = 45[d100]+105-47

10 hits and light critical
He’ll do impact crit.

Enemy Soldier (Medium human) – Level 2, HP 55, Damage 35, 1 bleed
21 = 11[d100]+10
Blow to the upper leg, painful bruise. +5 Damage and -10 activities

Arnstein’s blow was a weak one in the confines of the narrow hallway and the soldier turned away most of it and only the flat of the axe blade slammed into the man’s leg.

All other Phases

Enemy Soldier (Medium human) – Level 2, HP 55, Damage 40; Bleed: 1, Penalty: -10

Round 3
Action Declaration
Does the soldier give up? Likely given his current state and that he’s scared.
(Likely | 3[d10]) No

Okay. Too scared to think straight. He’s not stunned anymore, so he’ll go for an all out attack on Arnstein.

Arnstein will meet him.

Collan will aid by flanking the attacker on his side.

Melee Phase:
Arnstein will parry with 60 then fight back.

Enemy Soldier goes first

1d100+55-25 def, -60 parry

66 = 96[d100]+55-85

Doh. He got open ended on Arnstein.

Roll low...
19 = 19[d100]
(Yes! Whew!)

66+19 = 85 vs Medium Armor, but -10 to his attack from his injury so 75 on the table.

The man screamed wildly, raised his blade, and hacked with ferocity. Arnstein blocked, turned aside one blow and then another, but part of the blade slammed into his chain mail. 

He takes only 4 Hits and no crit. But he’s still injured from before.

Arnstein (Medium human) – Level 2, HP 130, Damage 49, Bleed:

(That leaves Arnstein with +45 CMB to hit him back)

104 = 79[d100]+45-20

10 Hits and Light.

Minor chest wound. +3 Damage, 1 Bleed, -5 to all actions

Arnstein's axe bit into the man’s chest, cutting through his armor, slamming him backwards into a kitchen table, breaking it in two. The man groaned but couldn't turn in time to meet Collan.

Now Collan’s attack:
76 = 46[d100]+50-20

5 HPs

Collan slammed into the soldier with a cry, his short sword piercing the man’s side.

Enemy Soldier (Medium human) – Level 2, HP 55, Damage 59; Bleed: 2, Penalty: -15

End Combat

The soldier gasped, white from fear and blood loss and then he slipped in his own blood and sank to the ground, his eyes flickering up into his head.

“Well done,” Arnstein said, kicking away the longsword from the man and then shoving him over with a boot.

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No
The soldier looked to be in his late twenties.

He was a youngish man with shoulder length hair, a leather cap, leather greaves and bracers. A dagger in his belt.

Anything else on him besides his weapons and armor?
(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Arnstein pulled out a small leather packet. Inside he extracted a folded parchment that appeared to be orders, but they were in no tongue Arnstein knew. Around the man’s neck was an iron band with runes.

Arnstein took both, staunched the man’s wounds. “We can take him to Lord Tozak for questioning.”

“Collan,” Kaylana asked, sitting again in the now-upright chair, a wet cloth to her head. “Thank you for coming. Who is this?”

Arnstein introduced himself, and looked at Collan.

Collan looked away.

"What is it?" Kaylana asked.

“I am Arnstien,” he said. “I met your husband.”

“You did? Is he well?" her bright eagerness, cut through her own pain. It was like a dagger thrust to Arnstein's heart. "I received a letter from him a month ago and--”

“He is dead, milady," he shook his head, heavy with sadness. "I am sorry. His last words were for me to find you and let you know.”

She reeled, clutched at Collan blindly. Collan knelt beside her and took her in his arms as she rocked back and forth. 

Her weeping tore at Arnstein’s heart. “He died well, fighting these invaders. His last thoughts were on you,” Arnstein said.

The woman said nothing, her choking sobs cutting the air.

“Collan, I don’t think she should stay here,” Arnstein said quietly to him. He picked up the enemy’s sword, strapping it around his own waist and then easily picked up the wounded soldier. “The fighting is nearby and it could spill over into this street. Come with me to safer streets.”

“You are right,” Collan said and he pulled Kalya to her feet. He whispered to her. “We must leave, Kaylana. There are more enemy soldiers close by. Can you walk?”

She nodded into his chest, still shuddering against him. Together they stumbled after Arnstein to a higher levels.

Squads of soldiers rushed passed them down into the neighborhood where they fought back enemy invaders, slaying those who would not surrender.


Arnstein helped Collan take Kaylana home.

“You brought ill news,” Collan said in front of his home. “But you have my thanks. The truth is better than clinging to some false hope.”

“Thank you, kind sir,” Kayla finally said, sniffing, her eyes red. She held Arnstein’s hand for a moment. “You saved my life.”

“Collan did too,” Arnstein said giving his hand to Collan to shake. “You fought well and bravely. Fight for the memory of your brother and for those who cannot defend themselves, and courage will see you through.

“I shall,” Collan vowed.

Arnstein bid them both farewell.


Arnstein took the injured soldier to now-captain Idair, who promised to keep him under guard until Arnstein came for him. Arnstein then gathered Parth, Shuaneer, and Loremaster Coamr, at the palace where they looked over the items collected from the fallen soldier.

Inside Coamr's room:
Loremaster Coamr looked over the orders.
139 = 89[d100]+70-20

“It bears resemblance to ancient elvish, but corrupted... by some other human dialect. The glyphs are old...very old,” he traced the orders with a wrinkled finger, and squinted down at the script. “But yes, I can read the script and decipher the code within it,” he smiled. “You’re welcome.”

Ambush / A representative

Was it a kill squad for Tozak?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

“These are orders for some men to infiltrate the city, using the distraction of a different attack on the docks. Then under the cover of darkness, they were to scale the palace walls and kill Lord Tozak,” his face paled. “There may be others! We must see to his safety!”

“Dark is a ways off still,” Arnstein said with a nod. “There is yet time. What of the amulet he bore?”

“The runes are in a different tongue,” he said and began to puzzle out the markings.

90 = 50[d100]+70-30
Imprison / Love

Finally, he gave a soft chuckle. “Well, given more time I could puzzle out the exact meter and structure of the poetic phrase, but suffice it to say that it appears to be some form of endearment, a bond from his betrothed.”

Arnstein frowned. “Can you speak with him?”

“I believe so,” Comar said.

“Then let’s find out what he knows.”


At the barracks, Captain Idair waved them into a locked room where the enemy soldier sat with hands bound with leather cords behind his back. Dark eyes met theirs as they entered.

Is he willing to talk?
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

The soldier is resistant but he’s scared (already established) and likely wants to be home. It’ll take some convincing, but they’ll get a +10 bonus.

Shuaneer will take the lead with Coamr acting as translator. She’s not trying to deceive him or even intimidate him per se.

Shuaneer looked at the man. He looked back at her, unblinking.

She brought up another chair, flipped it around and straddling it, settled her arms across the chair's back. She watched him calmly. “I tell you truthfully, it will go poorly if you do not cooperate. But if you do cooperate, you will come to no harm.”

Coamr translated and the soldier glared at her.

She sighed, pulled out a slender and ornate dagger. The man jerked his head back reflexively, eyes going wide. She held the dagger out to Arnstein.

“Cut his bonds.”

“What?” Captain Idair and Arnstein asked together.

“Release him. He’s not going anywhere, and we need him to trust us,” she said.

Arnstein shrugged and then did as he was told. When the leather bands were cut, the shock on the man’s face was evident but some suspicion there as well. He slowly massaged his wrists, never taking his eyes off of them.

She poured some wine, drank some from a cup and then passed the cup to him. “Please drink. I can tell you’re thirsty. I told you that it will go well with you if you tell us what you know. You can trust us.”

Coamr translated.

158 = 88[d100]+60+10

The man looked at her and then to the others, then lowered his head, but after a long moment he finally looked into her eyes and nodded.

The questioning didn’t take long. He willingly gave what information he could.

Does he know anything about who’s commanding the invading army?
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Does Shauneer recognize the enemy commander’s name?
Songs and Tales:
103 = 43[d100]+60

Was he the same captain that was under Ravkeen from centuries before?
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

“He mentions Ag’thar. That is a name of darkness, of death,” she said with a frown. It means “Blightbringer in the old tongue.”

“Yes,” Coamr also frowned, tapping his cheek in thought. “You are correct. Blightbringer... If I’m not mistaken, the same title was given to a captain of Ravkeen’s forces many years ago, but surely this Ag’thar you faced, Arnstein, cannot be the same person, is he?”

“How could I know that?” Arnstein shrugged. His face darkened at the memory of his encounter with the dark-plated commander. “He was fully covered from head to toe in dark plate armor. I never saw his true face.”

“It may be that this commander is the same and is kept alive by some arcane means, or that he has elf lineage, or most likely, that he’s simply taking on the same title as Ravkeen’s earlier commander.” Shauneer said.

Does he know why they are attacking Silver Bay?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

The questioning continued.

They learned that the captive’s name is Grend. That the man’s tribe is from a continent far to the west. All the men were rounded up and forced to fight. He doesn’t know why.

He himself wasn’t part of the kill squad. He wasn’t well trained enough for that, but he was leading a squad of ordinary soldiers as part of the diversionary attack force. The rest of his squad was cut down, and he ended up fleeing into Kaylana’s home.

Does Grend know anything about the events that Michi spoke of on the Skywind in episode 3?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Does Grend know who commands the Dark Knight commander?
(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Grend nodded and his face took on a somewhat worshipful expression. “Edraithdir,” he said.

“Is that--?” Coamr began.

“Yes, ancient elvish,” she said, her eyes narrowing. “In the common tongue, it means ‘One that Saves’.”

Coamr nodded and an expression of excitement mingled with horror crossed his face. “Ravkeen took on a similar name during his invasion centuries ago. ‘The One Who Brings the Dawn’.”

“Blasphemy, there is only one Dawnlord,” Arnstein said.

“Ravkeen’s actions brought only a new dawn of death and destruction,” Shuaneer stated flatly. “It is a common practice to hide the unsavory behind a more palatable name.”

“Typical politician,” Parth added with a sour expression.

“Well, ancient accounts confirm that many in his force truly believed he really was the Dawnlord of old,” Coamr added. “At least initially.”

“So, what does all this mean?” Captain Idair asked.

Arnstein and Shauneer shared a look and Coamr paled.

“It could mean that Ravkeen walks the earth again,” Shuaneer said. “That he has a new following.”

A long silence hung in the air. Parth's face went white and he grabbed at a nearby table to steady himself, spilling the wine.

“And that his war of conquest has begun anew,” Arnstein added. His statement was punctuated by the sharp crack of a hurled boulder from a ship-borne catapult that slammed into a nearby tower, sending masonry spilling into the street, scattering shouting citizens.

3 XP for facing a Fellbeast and a Dark Knight Combo.
1 XP for surviving the threat

Arnstein (Medium human) – Level 2 XP 25/30, HP 130, Damage 49, Bleed:
Drive Points: 1
Hero Points: 3

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Thoroughly enjoying this read, keep it up  Tongue I really like the characters and the setting you've created, feels very real with the way you write it.
Thanks Iskuu! It's comments like this that make me want to keep chronicling and sharing these games. I appreciate it!

Btw, if anyone wants to get a good deal on the 'Against the Darkmaster' core rules PDF, it's part of the non-OGL bundle on BundleOfHolding right now for another few days I think. A splendid deal IMHO, even more so with the other stuff offered:

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Episode 8
That night, Arnstein and Shuaneer met Lord Tozak in the palace.

Captain Idair had warned Lord Tozak of the possibility of assassination, and the guard had been doubled on the palace grounds and in the palace itself and Lord Tozak's typical meeting place had been changed. A full six guards, heavily armed, stood outside the meeting room where Arnstein and Shuaneer met with Lord Tozak.

They met in a “Remembrance Hall”, a room dedicated to an event of special historical or religious meaning. This particular hall was one of circular construction atop one of the spires attached to the palace.

“Ah, thank you for coming, both of you,” Lord Tozak said. He stood near a set of rectangular, curved stained-glass windows set in the walls in a complete circle.

He was dressed in worn black clothing, atop which a worn and serviceable breastplate with numerous dents and scratches told tale to many a scrap with death. His chain of office hung from his neck. His well-trimmed dark beard framed a hard but handsome face.

The entire look came off as sensible and not ostentatious in the least. An arming sword hung from his waist and a long dagger from his belt on the other side.

What do the windows depict?
Busily / Delicate
Waste / The mundane

Delicate artistry and embellishments in the thick colored panes depicted events from “The Wasting”, a cataclysmic event in the ancient days when the land was decimated by a dark blight that crept across the land, consuming forest and dell and croplands in a mist-ridden darkness. Humanity and its allies on the brink of devastation gathered together and prayed to the Dawnlord for aid.

Another set of windows showed the “Dawnsgiving”, an event where ancient tradition said that humanity (man, elf, dwarf, and their allies) was saved when the Dawnlord himself gave his life upon the mountains. His blood and tears turned to liquid gold and light that burned away the darkness, cleansing the earth in a new birth that lasted a millennia.

Thus the mountains were named Nienor emyn, or in the common tongue, the Sorrowhills and the sea that took his tears and his blood, the Malthen gaer, or the Golden Bay.

I used this for the elvish in these place names (Sindarin)

“It seems I made a good decision promoting this Idair to Captain. Already he has brought news that has likely saved my life, though he claims the credit goes to you two.” He beamed at them. “And so, it seems I am in your debt for the warning about the threat on my life.”

He motioned toward a side table with some wine and cheese. “Wine?”

“Thank you,” Arnstein said with a slight bow and took a goblet, while Shuaneer folded her arms and shook her head.

“Still upset are you?” Lord Tozak eyed the elf woman and took a sip of his own wine. He sighed, “I cannot spare the manpower to chase down this Rivener of yours. My city needs our forces here.”

“I’m not asking for an army, only a score of hand-picked men,” she said.

“My scores of hand-picked men are busy,” Lord Tozak said. “They defend this city, its walls, and lands. That is my primary responsibility!”

“And while they do, Azrut the Rivener runs amok doing the Light knows what!”

“What would you have me do? We are nearly completely cut off!”

“But had you given me those men when I asked, three days ago, we could have cut our way through ‘ere this noose was cinched,” Shuaneer rejoined.

“I couldn’t spare the number you asked for then, and I can’t spare them now. In any case, those lands are King Rillelon’s responsibility,” Tozak said. “He has tasked me with defense of this city and the three bays. That is what I have sworn to do. That is what I will do.”


“My Lord,” Arnstein interjected, taking a sip of the sweet wine. “Since the siege began, have you received any word from King Rillelon?”

Shauneer glared at Arnstein and then back to Lord Tozak.

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Lord Tozak shook his head. “I ordered runners sent out before the city became completely surrounded. But that was a week ago. I haven’t heard any reports back.

What is the mission he wants them to do?
Release / Friendship

Is this about an ally?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Is Kibehunga by Golden Bay part of the same nation?
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Is it within Tozak’s stewardship
(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

In that case, it wouldn’t be an “ally” but a subject if Tozak is Lord over that city as well. So, this mission must be somewhere else.

He paced across the window, and turned facing them. “I called you here to ask for your help,” he said. Shauneer’s eyes flashed and she was about to speak, but he held up his hand. “Hear me out, Lady Shauneer. I think this will be to your liking and will aid both our purposes.”

She gave a curt nod, and he continued.

“The Lord Duke of Haldemarsh Keep, Duke Heldro, is a personal friend and ally. We were brothers in arms many years ago, and have vowed to aid each other should the need arise. Well, that need has arisen," he said and gestured out the window to where shouts and the clamor of battle continued. 

He pointed to a map spread out on a low wooden table. "Duke Heldro’s keep lies at the head of the Bronze Bay, amidst the Halde Marsh. I need you to go to Duke Heldro. Secure his aid in our defense, assuming he is not assaulted yet as well. A small hand-picked squad, no more than four, will help you get through enemy lines and see you to the keep.

“Once you secure his promise of aid, that squad of men will have orders to aid you, Lady Shuaneer, in your personal quest to hunt down this Riviner.”

Arnstein nodded and stroked his bearded chin. “I will, of course, aid you in this Lord Tozak. If by my actions I can bring deliverance to the people of Silver City,” Arnstein said. "I shall."

Shauneer gave a slow nod and a grim smile crossed her beautiful face. “It's less than the score I had hoped for, but it's something. You will also have my sword on this quest, Lord Tozak.”

“Good. Very good,” the worry lines eased somewhat on his face. “Then choose your men and gather your gear but see that you leave by first light. There is little time to waste!”

They bowed and took their leave, and the guards at the door quietly shut the door behind them.

One final question:
Is Tozak attacked by the kill squad? 
He knows about it and has taken precautious. 
I’m going to say it’s unlikely that they’d be able to reach him.
(Unlikely | 3[d10]) No


Arnstein, Shauneer, and Parth slept little that night and the hours passed in needful preparation. They stayed at the barracks and gathered supplies, arms and amor. They tasked Captain Idair with finding a small squad of hand-picked men while they met with Coamr to hopefully find a way out of the city. For an hour they poured with him over old maps until their constant questioning set him on edge and he ushered them out, saying to come back before dawn.

In the wee hours of the morning after they had packed supplies and gear, they went to check on him.

Research using his Lore skills +20 taking his time (all night looking) and -20 for difficulty... So
143 = 73[d100]+70

He brushed dust off some old map cases, dated more than two hundred years old, and spread them over the table.

“I found something,” he said, around a smoky brazier. Once more his bleary-eyed gaze held them, and again with an excited gleam in his eye.

He pushed a yellowed map across the table towards them and pointed at a faded dotted line that went under the northern wall. “A passageway,” he said.

What kind of passageway is it?
Move / Success

“This passageway was called The Night Road. It was used by smugglers centuries ago to smuggle illicit goods in and out of the city. It was ordered barred and locked over a hundred years ago when assassins infiltrated the city and killed one of the visiting princes of the realm.

“On our end, it has been under lock and key and guard ever since.”

“And the other end?” Parth asked.

“Old reports say that it was caved in to prevent its use,” Coamr said.

“The reports ‘say’? Was it actually?”

“Yes...and no.”

“That end was indeed collapsed, but I found another document written in code, which I spent last night deciphering,” he puffed out his chest a little, straightening an inkpot, and smoothed a couple of new documents out onto the table. “It turns out that secret tunnels are quite useful for the kingdom’s own spy network as much as they are for smugglers and thieves. You see, a new tunnel exit was opened for kingdom use here,” he pointed to a section on the map that led to a copse of woods nestled between two hills.

“Does Lord Tozak know about this?” Shauneer asked.

Coamr shrugged. “Who knows? But the fact that he didn’t suggest it makes one wonder, does it not?”

“Nicely done,” Arnstein smiled and stroked his chin studying the passageway. “Nicely done, indeed.”

As they left, Coamr passed the information about the secret passageway to Captain Idair.


Do they get any sleep that night?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

The night passed in constant threat and racket. A night attack on the walls, with horns blaring, and flaming pitch from sea-borne catapults bursting in the streets and hundreds fighting fires kept everyone awake and on edge.

That morning, in the smoky pre-dawn light, they met inside a ruined granary near the north wall by a locked and barred ion gate. Captain Idar stood with four scouts, hand-picked for their skills in stealth and combat.

The men were all dressed in supple leather armor, oiled to a dark brown, with cloaks of mottled browns and greens. Each carried composite bows, bore full quivers at their waists, and arming swords and long daggers in weapon belts. Over a shoulder each carried a small bundle of food and clothing.

Their weathered faces told of long days in the wild.

“These are some of our Pathcutters,” Idair said. “They are specialized in moving quietly in the wilderness. They know the surrounding lands well. They have all received their orders. Sergeant Lancet here is their leader.” He pointed to a man with light brown wispy hair, partly balding, and a flat nose that looked to have been broken more than once.

The sergeant looked about the same size as the others, slender and lean, like they could move across hill and dell at speed, swift as an arrow.

His hard eyes regarded Arnstein. “Are you going to slow us down?” Lancet asked the large man flatly, his eyes passing over the huge maul and other gear. “We need to move quickly.”

“I can carry my own weight,” Arnstein held the other man’s gaze and shifted his gear in his bulging arms.

“Quietly?” The sergeant asked.

Arnstein smiled but said nothing and their eyes locked, a promised a meeting of flint and steel.

“That’s enough,” Captain Idair said. “Your job, Sergeant,” he tapped the other man's leather breastplate, “is to support these people. Help them reach the Haldemarsh keep, and after that, to follow the Lady Shuaneer’s orders to hunt down a threat in the countryside.”

“Yes sir,” Sergeant Lancet said flatly, saluting, fist to chest. He shut his mouth with a grimace.

Lvl 4, MR: 15L, AT: LA, Def: 20, TSR: 30, WSR: 25, HPs: 80, Attacks: +60 Blade / +80 Bow, CT: NH, Rog: 40, Adv: 45, Lor: +10

Does Tozak open up the armory to them, effectively dropping the WL of arms and armor by 1?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...
Yes, but only for Fare Level 1 items. All others require normal Fare. So, Fare 1 items are free.

Do the Pathcutters have a Healer’s Kit among them?
(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
Each one has one Bandage.

Is Tozak supplying rations?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

The city doesn’t have a huge food supply. They rely on regular shipping. Food shortages are already being felt by the lower classes. Rations Fare Level is increased by 1.

Gear updates:
  • Arnstein (WL 2)
  • Leather greaves and bracers (both for FL 1 each)
  • Metal helmet (FL 1) (-5 perception)
Finally some more armor!

Shuaneer (WL 1)
  • She’ll get two knives.
Parth (NPC)
  • He’ll add Leather Armor
  • Leather helm
  • Two knives

Captain Idair bade them farewell. Before the light from the east had crested the walls, Idair opened the rusted metal gate with a grating squeak. A few steps led downwards to the dark passageway of The Night Road. 

As Arnstein turned to descend the steps after the others, Captain Idair grabbed his arm. “Bring aid quickly, Arnstein. We cannot hold the walls forever!”
Arnstein nodded, gripped Idair’s arm in farewell, and then jogged down the narrow steps that led to the dark, musty, narrow tunnel.

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Episode 9
Do they encounter anything in the tunnel?
(Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

The journey through the cramped tunnel proved uneventful aside for Arnstein banging his helmeted head on a low wooden beam when the tunnel grew lower.

After several minutes of walking through the darkness with lit torches sputtering and hissing, they finally emerged in a sheltered grove of trees that rested between a couple of hills. They extinguished their torches before they left the exit and emerged into the early morning light. Dawn brightened the hills about them, but it remained shadowed within the trees.

Wet dew glistened on the grasses and the smell of the morning was tinged with the acridness of smoldering fires from the city and the bay spewing smoke heavenward.

The pathcutters had spread out in a semi circle, bows out, arrows placed, but not drawn, watchful for any enemy.

Are there any?
(Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

Sergeant Lancet approached Arnstein and Shauneer. He ignored Arnstein and spoke directly to Shauneer.

“Milady, we’re behind enemy lines, but they likely have patrols out. I have orders to move at speed as long as it does not compromise our ability to move unseen.”

“A balance between the need for haste to save the city but to not show our hand too soon to any enemy patrols,” Arnstein nodded.

Sergeant Lancet didn’t look at him, his eyes still on the elf lady until they darted once again to the landscape, always scanning for threats.

“Do we march on foot the entire way then?” she asked.

Does Lancet’s group have horses hidden somewhere for just this kind of thing?
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Sergeant Lancet shook his head. “Three miles from here is a hidden stable where we store mounts for just such a purpose as this. We’ll ride when we can, and walk when we need to maintain stealth.” His dark eyes roved across the countryside for signs of the enemy.

“Very well,” she said.

Sergeant Lancet returned her nod and gave a signal above his head and a low hoot of a bird. The other dark and mottled shapes, extracted themselves from the terrain and moved out.

Are there any patrols in the distance?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

For about an hour they marched in careful quick strides over copse-covered hills and shady vales. But they didn’t see any enemy patrols.

After another half hour they came to another copse of trees. Sergeant Lancet gave a low bird whistle.

Is all well at the stable?
(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Lancet listened intently and then received an answering birdcall. Satisfied at the code, he nodded and motioned the others forward. Arnstein followed Shauneer and Lancet and the other Pathcutters into the thick copse of trees. There in the shadowy depths, the stable lay covered with additional greenery, and another Pathcutter stood up out of the greenery and motioned them onward.

“How are things, Bowen?”

“Quiet so far, sir. We had some enemy patrols pass by the other day but they moved inland in haste and thankfully didn’t notice me.”

“We need to ride quickly towards Haldemarsh Keep,” Lanced said.

“We have plenty of mounts, sir, and fodder as well.”

“Good,” Lancet said. “Let’s get them ready to go.”

He and the other Pathcutters started to get the mounts saddled. Arnstein assisted as well. He had spent a lot of time in the saddle the last few years. Soon, they were mounted with their baggage on a few spare horses.

(The result of the Yes, and)

Arnstein saddled his own mount, a grey gelding with a white blaze on his forehead and mismatched eyes, blue and green. The horse nuzzled Arnstein playfully with its soft nose.

He chuckled and scratched its ears.

“That one’s named Whimsy,” Bowen grinned. “Be careful with him around water. He might take you for a swim.”

“Thanks for the tip,” Arnstein said. He patted the gelding’s side and whispered in its ear and then swung up into the saddle with a creak of leather.

Now that we’ve entered the brave new world of ChatGPT. I decided to use some of it for some descriptions.

Give me another somewhat normal horse with some quirks:

The horse was a grey gelding with a white blaze on his forehead and mismatched eyes - one blue and one green. Despite his odd appearance, he was a lively and playful horse, always eager to explore his surroundings. He had a tendency to nuzzle his riders with his big, soft nose and loved to play in the water, splashing and rolling in streams and ponds. Though he was sometimes seen as a bit of a clown, he was also a loyal companion and a gifted jumper, able to clear fences with ease. He had a quirky personality that endeared him to those who took the time to get to know him, and he was always up for an adventure.

Arnstein is still Lightly Encumbered I think, even with his additional weapons but he’s on the verge of becoming encumbered. He has his heavy weapon, plus the two smaller weapons (battleaxe and longsword)

“Safe travels,” Bowen said. “Enemy patrols have been slowly moving inland, and it’s likely they’ll cut off more territory to consolidate their position around the city. Be careful. There’s a small game trail that cuts between several low hills. It may provide you with some cover from their closer scouts.”

The journey to Haldemarsh is not short. It’s about 250 miles. But they’ll be moving quickly and if they can find good terrain, that isn’t too rough they can move about 95 kilometers a day.

Lancet nodded and he and his Pathcutters resumed their journey, waving farewell to Bowen.

Lancet reported to Lady Shauneer, “If we’re lucky, it’ll take us about four to five days to reach the marshes and then another two days or so to traverse the marshes. We have about a seven day journey ahead of us.”

“Very well, lead the way,” she said.

That’s a two-hazard journey.
First hazard rolling on Random Hazards Table on p 145 of the Core book = Minons of Darkness. I suppose that’s fitting considering there’s an army and patrols about.

Are these minions a patrol of soldiers?
(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Are they accompanied by a ship?
(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Are they attacking something? Like a farmhouse?
(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Is the party close enough to stop them?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Is the enemy patrol mounted?
Seems like they’re a long distance patrol
(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

What’s the relative power in numbers compared with Arnstein and his party and the Pathfinders. I’ll roll a 1d10 (5 is even).

5 = 5[d10]

So Arnstein, Shauneer, Parth, Lancet + 3 other Pathfinders = 7 individuals on horseback. That means there are 7 enemy in the patrol.

Is the farmhouse unawares?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Does the enemy patrol have ranged weapons?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Weather meter
9 = 10[d20]

The second day of their travels, distant acrid smoke rose heavy and gray, mingling with dark storm clouds that misted the bay far to the south east. The clouds were a foundation to spears of lightning in the sky. The storm promised a quick race to land and already it caused gusting winds to blow flurries of debris about them.

Something burned near the coast but already the storm clouds overtook and shrouded it, obscuring it from view.

At mid-morning, they were moving north east, single file, between rolling hills when Arnstein and the others pulled rein at a clatter of hoofs in front of them. A Pathcutter dashed his horse back down a shale-ridden crest in front of them causing little rock slides. He returned to Sergeant Lancet and yanked on the reins and the horse who danced its front hooves in the air.  “Sir! Enemy patrol on foot, moving slowly up on a farmhouse!”

What are Lancet’s motivations?
Instinct: Sarcasm
Obligation: Local Guild (Pathcutters)
Obligation Type: Religion (Religious fervor)
I think this means he sees his mission objectives as black and white.

“Dismount and show me!” Lancet ordered.

He and the other pathfinders dismounted and ran to the top of the crest, kneeling behind bushes and trees, their greens and browns blending with the environment.

Arnstein, Shauneer, and Parth dashed up after them, and also knelt behind nearby cover. They peered down into a valley covered in pines and small oaks.

Below them a farmstead jutted up against the forested ground. A larger plot of land had been cleared and a large tangle of gray wood had been gathered in a large pile for a firing.

There, south of the farmhouse, they spotted moving through the trees toward the farmhouse, shapes moving low, darting and then pausing, weapons out. Two had bows. The others had spears.

The enemy hadn’t noticed the companions on the crest.

“This is good. We mount up and go around them,” Lancet said. “They’ll be busy with the farmhouse, and they certainly won’t be able to catch up to us that way.” He stood and started to return to this horse.

“We must help those people!” Arnstein said, grabbing his arm.

Arnstein’s Charisma to persuade
39 = 14[d100]+25
Failure... I think this means his position is given away.

“Oh must we?” Lancet cast a mocking eyebrow and yanked his arm free. “I think not. I’ll not endanger this mission to aid every forsaken farm en route!”

“Then their blood will be upon your hands!” Arnstein growled.

“And I’ll gladly take it!” Lancet said. “What if we were delayed or slain in our mission? What then? The blood of the entire Silver City...perhaps even the nation would drip rivers from my hands! Would you have that on your hands too? On your conscience?”

Arnstein growled. The man had been a constant thorn while they traveled. Arnstein didn’t like him and he knew Lancet didn’t like him. Arnstein tried to calm himself, but to no avail. Maybe it was his cocky know-it-all attitude. Maybe it was his constant sneering sarcasm that grated on his nerves at nearly every word he said.

Arnstein glowered and muttered under his breath, “I am surrounded by witless fools who lack the willpower--nay the courage to do what must be done and--”

“You doubt my willpower and my courage?” Lancet spat at him.

“When it comes to you, little man, there is much I doubt!” Arnstein shouted back.

Lancet had his hand on the pommel of his arming sword, his face livid. Arnstein had his hand on the pommel of his longsword, his artery pulsing in his neck.

“Get down!” Shauneer hissed to Arnstein, yanking on his sleeve. He glowered at her but resumed his crouch behind the pine tree on the crest.

She turned to Lancet. “You and your men are no common soldiers. You can do this! You have the skill to hit them at range, here behind this crest. Should they get close, Arnstein and I will handle them. You will be in little danger of losing your quest and this way we can ensure they won’t follow us.”

She’s going try Charisma:
90 = 30[d100]+60
Partial success.

“I don’t take orders from you,” Lancet said. “Not until I see you safely to Haldemarsh Keep.

“True,” she said, her eyes intent on his. “Not until then. But you do see wisdom in my words, do you not?”

For a moment he considered and then he slowly nodded. “For your wisdom, I choose to do this, not for that oaf’s mewlings!”

He raised his hand and gave a signal and the other pathcutters raised bows, and set arrows.

Shauneer nodded and drew her falchion and rested it point down in the earth, her hands on the pommel of the elegant weapon.

“Sir!” one of the Pathcutters said in a whisper to Lancet and pointed. “Two of them are coming our way...”

“Curse your idiot loudmouth!” Lancet’s eyes cast daggers at Arnstein. “Now we’ve lost the element of surprise!”

“Better than losing our honor!” Arnstein shot back, drawing his maul from his back and hunkering down behind the tree.

I’m actually going to do something different here, since I don’t think this group of seven enemy soldiers poses much of a threat, and I don’t really want to get bogged down in rolling it all out for something not terribly epic.

I’m going to take a page from Ironsworn and do something similar to the Battle Move and handle this fight in a single roll using a suggestion I got from the Against the Darkmaster Discord server. (If you’re interested in my Ironsworn game, it’s here, and I highly recommend that you get your own free copy of that amazing RPG.)

First we tally the average CMB and HPs of each group.

We’re fighting low-level scouts. I’m using the Hillemen from the VsD campaign in the Core rulebook.

CMB: Arnstein = 105, Shaunner = 65, Parth = 65, Pathcutters = 80
(Average 78)

HPs: A=130 ,  Shauneer = 65, Parth = 45, Cathcutters= 80
(Average 80)

78 + 80 = 158
HPs: 50 + 50 CMB = 100

The difference in favor of the PCs is 58. The numbers are the same on each side, so no bonuses there.

So that’s what I add to Skill roll.

132 = 74[d100]+58

100-174 Success. You accomplish what you were trying to do.

Everyone loses 10% of their hits but there were no critical rolls suffered because of the Success.

The two who rushed up the hill to engage Arnstein were cut down by Shauneer and Parth who rose up out of the trees on their flanks. Arnstein crushed the head of one and Shauneer with Parth’s help delivered massive gashes across the second man’s torso, arms, and throat, and he fell back with a gurgled scream into the trees.

The other enemy soldiers tried to support the attack up the hill, but the Pathcutters’ arrows slashed out through the trees embedding into their chests and backs when they started taking flanking fire from the farmhouse.

Two of the enemy had hid behind trees and boulders and shot with shortbows, but when their companions fell, they faded into the woods.

Are there any still living on the battlefield?
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

One soldier nearby had an arrow in his back and another in his calf and was screaming in pain. Lancet put him out of his misery by drawing his dagger across his neck.

Another enemy soldier had an arrow in his gut and another in his upper chest. He groaned, spitting blood. Arnstein and Shauneer approached.

“Are there more of you nearby?” Arnstein asked him, kneeling by him and lifting the man’s head so he didn’t choke on his own blood.

Is he willing to talk?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Does he understand Common speech?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Are there more nearby?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Does he know anything about Haldemarsh Keep and if it’s under attack?
(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

He shook his head and spat out the blood, and tried to talk. The pain and liquid filled his lungs, making him take short gasping breaths.

“Are there more?” Arnstein asked more insistently.

The man stared at him blankly and then his eyes widened when he saw Shauneer.

Does he understand Elvish? Probably somewhat likely given that Ravkeen took on an ancient Elvish name that his warriors recognize.
(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Shauneer spoke to him in melodic tones and he answered back in a guttural grating form of Elvish. Then he shook his head, spoke some more, and groaned and gasped in pain.

“He’s fading,” she said.

Finally his eyes went wide and he exhaled a final breath, his chest stopped moving, and his head lolled to one side and his eyes saw only darkness.

Shauneer sighed and palmed the man’s eyelids closed. The enemy warrior looked younger somehow, Arnstein thought with the sleep of death on his face.

“What did you learn?” Lancet said, joining them. He cast a scathing look at Arnstein and then focused on Shauneer.

“He said there are no others nearby.”

“And you’re the trusting sort, I suppose?” Lancet said.

“No, but I do believe him. This rag tag group had the look of a far flung scouting patrol, lightly armed and poorly equipped in armor and supplies. They’ve likely been roving far ahead of their main body, living off the land for several days.”

“Or maybe they’re deserters,” Arnstein said.

“A likely thought,” she said. “But I asked him. He told me he was not. It was important to him that he remained loyal to the end.”

“So, does that mean their main body hasn’t yet reached Haldemarsh Keep? That the keep is not under attack?” Lancet asked.

Shauneer shook her head. “I know not. We’ll know in a few days. They could have brought a second fleet and sailed it into the marsh directly or a second army could be marching ahead of us.”

Lancet spun on Arnstein. “Your actions put our mission at risk!” he growled.

“I have no qualms saving a family from death! Something you apparently shy away from,” Arnstein countered. “If you feel the mission is at risk, look in a glass! Perhaps you’ll see the answer why!”

“Get in my way again,” Lancet warned cooly, stepping closer. “And I’ll cut you down!”

“You can try,” Arnstein said, his eyes narrowing, a twitch along one cheek.

“Enough!” Shauneer said standing between them. She glared at both men. “You’re both behaving as children!”

Lancet smirked at that and folded his arms, a mocking look on his face at Arnstein.

“I’m not going to take--” Arnstein began to turn away.

She grabbed his arm, making him face her. Her green eyes sought and held his. “You are better than this, Arnstein!”

Does she recognize the medallion he bears about his neck and what it means? Songs and Tales check (-20)
121 = 61[d100]+60
-20 = 101

I guess that means she’s seen it. Not sure when because he doesn’t exactly show it in the open.

“What? What of him? He’s the one who--” Arnstein began.

Her voice dropped to a whisper only he could hear. “I am not speaking to him. I am speaking to one who has the blood of a High Man running his veins. And more than that, I think,” she said.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

Has she seen his ancestors? She’s old enough.
(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

“You bear his features, I think,” she pursed her lips.

“Whose features?”

“If I’m not mistaken, your great great grandfather? Or would that be your great great great grandfather?” she cocked her head.

“What?” His eyes widened. “You know of my ancestors?”

“King Mithlein was his name. He visited the Silver Queen once over three hundred years ago. He and his entourage came on a large ship bearing a banner of a red eagle emblazoned across a golden sunburst on a field of white.”

Arnstein knew those colors. He remembered seeing tapestries of the same design as a child. He remembered seeing them in slow motion as they came tumbling down, falling into flame and blood and ruin as parents and guards were cut down under a horde of attacking Red Caps. But someone had carried him away to safety.

He never found out who.

“King Mithlein?” he said the name slowly, savoring it, then slowly shook his head. “That banner is no more,” he said softly. “I saw it fall.”

“That is not true. You carry it here,” she said in her melodic voice. Her finger rested on the medallion that hung over his breast. “In and over your heart.”

He reached out and grabbed her finger fiercely. “I’ve not shown that to you, how did you--?”

“You pulled it out last night ‘ere you slept. Elves can see in the darkness if there is some starlight,” she smiled and removed her hand from his and brushed a strand of hair aside from her impeccable face. “And last night there was both moon and star. Light enough for me to know that what you have on your medallion was the same design.”

“You have a good memory to remember such heraldry for something you saw centuries ago,” Arnstein said.

She smiled. “Elves are longer lived than your race; a century passes in a flicker of seasons. But to me it only seems as if it were a few months ago.”

Anrstein shrugged heavily. “It matters little. My family is dead, and I am the last of a broken kingdom.”

“That may be. But it does not mean the honor that once flowed through your ancestors' veins be lost and broken within you.”

He grimaced and shook his head in frustration. “You think I did wrong then? To help these people?”

The family in the farmstead peaked their heads out of doors and windows, cautious, watching Arnstein and the others. The small head of a little blond girl peaked through a window and pointed at them.

“Of course not,” Shauneer said. “I would expect nothing less of you.”


“But think. Would you have been so keen to rush to their aid had a hundred men been assaulting the farmstead?”

“But there were not a hundred.”

“There could have been more afield nearby. Lancet is not wrong. We must be cautious and spend our efforts and lives where it makes the most sense.”

“He is not fit to lead this--”

“Lancet has much experience and knows these lands. And it is imperative that his mission succeeds. It would not be wise to throw that aside to assuage your pride.”

“My pride...” he grumbled.

“Do not rise to the barbs cast by lesser men,” she said and her eyes shifted to Lancet.

“Are you going to tell him the same thing?”

“He does not carry your same weighty heritage, Lord Arnstein, descendent of King Mithlien.”

“Don’t call me that,” he murmured, his eyes pensive.

She nodded and watched him.

He gave a heavy sigh and after a long moment of struggle he met her eyes. “Very well. I will try to make amends with the insufferable man.”

“Thank you,” she said, touched his arm, and then moved to talk with the owners of the farmstead.

Arnstein went over to where Lancet was going through the pockets of the fallen. Lancet stood when he approached with a lithe grace.

Arnstein gave a stiff bow. “Sir, I apologize for my recent conduct. It was unbecoming of one of my...station.”

He tries a Charisma skill to change Lancet’s attitude towards Arnstein.
42 = 17[d100]+25

Not sure what the result of this failure should be. Lancet already doesn’t like Arnstein much, so I guess it’s just that he doesn't like him even more. I don’t think there’s motivation for him to draw weapons or anything. I think he recognizes Arnstein’s fighting prowess, and isn’t stupid, but he’s also under orders to help them arrive safely at the keep, but his dislike is deeper now with a more personal hatred perhaps. We’ll see what happens.

“Really? Your...station? ” Lancet asked, his lips pulling back from his teeth in mocking leer. “Do you think that impresses me? I don’t care who or what you are. I don’t believe you’re sincere with this apology drivel? Who put you up to this anyway? Your elf lady friend?”

Arnstein said nothing, just held his gaze.

“Let me give you a hint. Stay out of my way, Arnstein,” Lancet said coolly. “I have a job to do, and you’d do well to remember that I have been tasked with getting this party to Haldenmarsh Keep! And I will do it, no matter what it takes!”

The smaller man brushed past Arnstein bumping into him slightly as he went to speak to his men.

Arnstein said nothing, but turned stiffly and rejoined Shauneer who was speaking with the farmers and fieldhands. Inwardly, his teeth threatened to grind down to white powder.

A group of maybe five men and older boys stood about, carrying cudgels, staves, rakes, and hoes. They looked excited and scared. Two were armed with bows. A few smaller children peaked through some rough leather drapes over worn wooden windows.

They squinted against the gray blustery wind and the dirt it cast up in small whirls.

“Have you seen any other scouts like these?” Shauneer asked above the wind.

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

An older man beyond his middle years, squinted and scratched at his nose and sneezed at the dust and dirt in the air. “Nay, miss. We’ve seen refugees a comin’ this way, fleeing’ from the coast, which is how we was a knowin’ that these men whom ye slew with yer weapons were the enemy.”

“Sounds like their main effort is still along the coast,” Parth said.

“Have any refugees reported seeing enemy ships moving towards Haldemarsh Keep?” Arnstein asked.

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

He shook his head. “Haven’t heard of any such thing, but I think that’s because of the...uh...the mist,” his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. They heard a gasp from inside the home.

“Mist?” Arnstein asked.

“Aye, a strange black mist movin’ up the bay, like a bad storm, or like the smoke off a burning village, ya know, only...” his voice trailed off


“Only, this mist is movin’ against the wind, or so they--the refugees--are a sayin’,” the old man rubbed his nose again and scratched his balding head. “Bad times when war comes to yer own doorstep. And e’en worse times when there’s dark magic afoot!”

“Indeed,” Shauneer said and her eyes turned to the pall that clung over the bay to the east.

“Gather up the weapons of the fallen, Goodman,” Arnstein said. “You and your lads. And do your best to stay safe. I suggest you flee the other refugees. There may be more enemy soldiers coming inland over the next days or weeks.”

“This be my home and my da’s home afore that,” the old man said. “Me an me missus will be a dyin’ here if that be the will of the gods.”

Parth grimaced and shook his head as he cleaned and sheathed his scimitar.

“Do not burn the bodies,” Shauneer told him. “Its smoke might give rise to enemy bands investigating. We must be on our way,” she said as the sun edged across the sky above them.

“Fair enough,” the old man said. “Well cover ‘em with rocks. Safe journey and much thanks for savin’ us and my younguns from these,” the man said, nudging the body with a leather boot.
Arnstein saw the little girl poke her head out of the window and wave with a shy smile before ducking back inside.

“It was our pleasure and our honor to help,” Artnstein said with a smile on his face.

Lancet watched him darkly. “Let’s go,” he muttered and drove his horse up the other side of the incline as the first smatterings of rain began to fall from the darkening skies.

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Episode 10

The party continued forward at speed, but they did not encounter any more enemy scouts. But day after day, the ominous dark cloud along the coast continued to move north in a strange ponderous foreboding. At night they kept watch and saw snakes of spreading torches invade inwards, burning villages and towns and surrounding Silver City.

The terrain also began to grow more technical as rolling hills and scattered trees gave way to treacherous marshland that sucked at their mounts’ hoofs and tall waist-high reeds, sometimes even as tall as a man’s height obscured their route.

I assume there’s a known road or route between the two keeps for trade etc, especially given the friendly nature of the two dukes?
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

A somewhat well-maintained road wound through and above the marshlands. They moved two abreast, Lancet next to one of his men and Arnstein next to Shauneer. Lancet found the route and motioned them after him. They made good speed along it towards the keep.

The first day into the marshlands, they have their Second Hazard. The terrain changes from Populated to Wilderness as they move into the marsh: 90 = 90[d100]

The encounter is
Free Peoples
I think this means either 1-30 defenders of Halde-Marsh Keep, 31-60 refugees fleeing the invasion or in some other need, 61-90 or other unfriendly parties:
95 = 95[d100]

A group of bandits then is hiding amidst the reeds. Is it a larger group than the party?
(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes
Considerably larger?
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

Bandit’s Rog +20
85 = 65[d100]+20


Perception +40 for Shauneer
Pathcutters aid
79 = 39[d100]+40

Arnstein’s aid:
Perception +30-5 helm
40 = 15[d100]+30-5

Shauneer’s perception
78 = 28[d100]+40+10:

Not enough to beat them. Which means the party is surprised. Arnstein suffers a further complication on his perception. What is that?

The complication is that his armor easily reflects any light and so he becomes a target for any surprise-round bow shots near him.

7 individuals on horseback
There are 10 bandits, five hidden on either side of the road and then five down the west side, forming a ragged L for their ambush.

Sunset burnishes the marshes in an amber glow. Arnstein on his mount, trotted next to Shuaneer, learning of her homeland when wicked barbs slashed out from in front of them and off to their west slamming into man and mount.

“To arms!” Lancet shouted

Round 1:
Lvl 4, MR: 15L, AT: LA, Def: 20, TSR: 30, WSR: 25, HPs: 80, Attacks: +60 Blade / +80 Bow, CT: NH, Rog: 40, Adv: 45, Lor: +10

Lvl 5, MR: 15L, AT: LA, Def: 20, TSR: 35, WSR: 30, HPs: 85, Attacks: +70 Blade / +90 Bow, CT: NH, Rog: 40, Adv: 45, Lor: +10

Lvl 4, MR:15L, AT: LAs, Def: 25, TSR: 25, WSR: 20, HPs: 70, Attacks: +70 Melee / +50 Ranged, CT: NH, Rog: 20, Adv: 30, Lor: +0

Lvl 3, MR: 16L, AT: NAs, Def: 20, TSR: 10, WSR: 10, HPs: 45, Attacks: +65 Blade / +35 Bow, CT: NH, Rog: 30, Adv: 50, Lor: +30

The party already failed their Perception.
The bandits attack and get +20 on their attacks and defenders, the party, can’t use Shield Bonus or Parry.

Action Declaration:
Bandit attack. Ten attackers, five from the front, five from the side. Do the bandits all attack with some kind of ranged attack first?
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

CMB +50 Ranged + 20 surprise = +70 this round
This might be really bad.

Move Phase:
Bandits stay put and shoot with short bows, using their range to their advantage.

The party can only do half movement. They can’t dive for cover because they can only do that if they’re aware of the attack, which they aren’t.

They all draw their weapons, Pathcutters draw arming swords. Arnstein draws his longsword. Shauneer draws her two-handed blade.

Arnstein and Shauneer both have 1 drive point each. I’m tempted to spend it, but I should probably save it for the bad critical hit I know is coming.

Spell Phase A:

Ranged Phase A:
Everyone gets one attack on them, but Arnstein gets three from the failure above. Nice...

To Lancet:
99 = 29[d100]+70
-20 = 79 vs LA
0 Hits

To Pathcutter 1:
150 = 80[d100]+50+20
-20 = 130 vs LA
20 Gri
108 = 78[d100]+30
Strike to lower leg Torn muscle +4 damage -20 all actions.

To Pathcutter 2:
75 = 5[d100]+50+20
-20 = 55 vs LA

To Pathcutter 3:
91 = 21[d100]+50+20
-20 = 71 vs LA
0 Hits

To Parth:
151 = 81[d100]+50+20
-20 = 131 vs NA
21 Let
Piercing on critical
My d100 was open ended crit ending up at 148 before the +50 lethal modifier!
Max result for Lethal piercing crit 150:
Strike through the eye into the brain. Instant death. 
Goodbye, Parth...

To Shauneer:
115 = 45[d100]+50+20
-20 - 85 vs MA
4 Hits

To Arnstein:
91 = 21[d100]+50+20
-25 = 66 vs MA
0 Hits

154 = 84[d100]+50+20
154-25=129 vs MA
(140 is Max for short bow)
22 Gri Ouch!
Here we go
90 = 60[d100]+30
Major abdominal wound: If armored (he is, thankfully), +4 damage, +3 bleed.

166 = 96[d100]+50+20 (that one is open ended)
  • 87 = 87[d100]
= 253 - 25 =
228 vs MA (OUCH!)
Thankfully 140 is Max for short bow
But still, ouch! He only has 1 drive to offset bad criticals. Better roll low.
22 Gri
89 = 59[d100]+30
Second critical: Strike to lower leg under knee. Tendons and muscle torn. +3 damage, stunned, and -25 to all actions.

That was a pretty low roll. I think I’ll keep that result even though he’s now stunlocked. Grrr.

Parth - DEAD

Arnstein (Medium human) – Level 2 XP 25/30, HP 130, Damage, 44 Bleed: 3
Other: STUNNED, -25
Drive Points: 1
Hero Points: 3

Shauneer (Medium human) – Level 1 XP 10/30, HP 65, DamageBleed:
Drive Points: 1
Hero Points: 0

Pathcutter 1
Damage: 22
Other: -20

Melee Phase:

Ranged Phase B:

Maybe I should have asked more questions about these bandits rather than assuming they were ready and willingness to go full bore into battle. Maybe they would have just threatened or sought for a tax to pass, instead of just assuming they were ready to attack with arrows set. But it’s too late now.

Arrows slashed out in front of him and and to his side. Arnstein saw Parth riding ahead of him, take a dark shaft in his eye and pitch backwards off his saddle, an arrow driven into the back of his skull. His arms reflexively clawing at his face as he fell and twitched to groaning stillness.

“Parth!” Arnstein shouted. But a sickening coldness throbbed in his gut. He knew the other man was dead. He heard other shouts and cries down the line as three arrows lanced towards him. One glanced off his armor. Another struck his midsection, but fell out, not penetrating deeply. A third barb found the gap between knee and leg, where his greave didn’t cover and drove into his lower leg just under the knee. He hissed at the poker hot pain under his knee and rocked back in his saddle, struggling to remain seated.

Note: Yes, a shorter episode. I actually had this part written up some time ago but wanted to include the entire combat before posting. But a few rounds into it I realized I wasn't applying some things properly. So I think I'll redo things starting in round 2. Plus, things honestly became a bit unwieldy the way I was tracking the fight. I need a better way. I'm considering using Fantasy Grounds for larger combats like this going forward. Anyway, I wanted to get this part posted at least.

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