Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 13: Victory at a cost

Still furious and with no signs of slowing down, the minotaur ignored Aruget’s attempts to stop him and his minions and ripped into Quentin, gouging his side.  Injured, desperate, and conscientious of just how bad the situation was, Quentin frantically lied that he was the group’s treasurer, and offered the minotaur his entire purse in exchange for their lives when Jak’s crossbow bolt came whistling over his head and lodged itself in the minotaur’s own skull.  Not enough to take the beast down, it turned to Jak with renewed rage.

Meanwhile, Lestok got the bright idea to muddy the waters by offering the minotaur’s henchmen the gold in exchange for helping take down their boss and get a bigger cut, which the orcs seemed to ponder, but the gnolls seemed completely indifferent to.  As Aruget fought off the gnolls, Jak latched on to Lestok’s plan and called out that any man who turned on the minotaur would get a further fifty gold each from his own purse.  This gave even the gnolls pause, and the minotaur finally made the party an offer: Quentin’s purse and Jak’s two hundred for their lives and Kayde’s body.  Seeing no other way out, the party took the deal, and Jak rushed to his friend’s side.  Frightened and shaken by the sight of such massive injuries, Jak yelled at Quentin to help Kayde with his magic, but the minotaur coldly informed them that staying on the road any longer would require more payment, so they bundled Kayde onto the donkey and made for safety.

After finding a place to stop, Jak again implored Quentin for help, fearing Kayde’s injuries were outside of his basic training, and Quentin made Jak take notice that he was injured as well.  He asked Jak to patch him up so that he could help Kayde in return, which Jak did, skillfully stitching up all his wounds.  Quentin closed his eyes, called on a healing wind…and stumbled backwards as magical energy painfully crackled up his own body.  Jak, wide-eyed and furious, yelled at Quentin as the once again injured druid explained that the winds in this area had rejected him, which Jak did not accept as an explanation.  He shoved Quentin away from Kayde and managed to tend to the worst of his external wounds, but could do nothing for Kayde’s internal injuries, and he spent the night sitting by his friend’s side while Quentin slunk off by himself, embarrassed, sore, and questioning his usefulness.

As Jak sat with Kayde, Lestok approached and proposed a new use for his G.I.N.S.U. oil…or was it an unguent?  He suggested that he could clean Kayde’s clothes with it.  This brought a small smile to Jaks’ face, knowing that clean clothes would make Kayde happy, and he wrestled the unconscious elf’s shirt off and gave it to Lestok.  Lestok’s crazy theory proved correct, and he soon brought back Kayde’s shirt cleansed of blood and muck.  Jak blinked back tears at this cap to the day’s madness, smiled a little, and – much to the old gnome’s surprise and delight – promised Lestok a drink if they made it to Graywall, using his real name for the first time instead of just calling him “old-timer.”

The next day on the road, Aruget explained to the group that the minotaur and his lackeys were most likely raiders from the north, where many warlords operated.  As they continued on, they came across a cart with a lone human man hunched over it, as if making repairs.  Jak, Kayde, and Quentin hung back while Aruget and Lestok went to investigate, remembering to keep up the ruse of being a research party from Morgrave.  Though Lestok did not make the best first impression, the man welcomed them and allowed Lestok to take a look at his broken cart wheel, which the gnome got to work on with unbridled enthusiasm.  Seeing no danger, Jak advanced to join them, and the man introduced himself as Hestian the Grim, a traveling trader who’d come from the fortress of Orcbone as of late.  Jak commented that he didn’t look too grim, earning another broad smile, and tested him with a Dark Lantern code phrase, which was not properly returned.  Hestian asked them some more questions about being from Sharn along with plenty of comments about meeting “good Brelish folk”, and made an odd remark that Sharn must be nice to visit in the spring, which meant nothing to Jak in turn.  

Meanwhile, still keeping his distance with Kayde and the donkey, Quentin heard from the woods what sounded like an imitation bird call.  He relayed it to Kayde, prompting him to call out his own “possible danger” code phrase to Jak…

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: Was the start of the Last War just or unjust?  Why do you hold that stance?
  • Quentin’s attempt to heal Kayde resulted in a crit fail and a trip to the Dynamic Backlash table, which was a whole lot of ouch for the poor fellow. Jak’s fear, anger, and bad attitude resulted in the two of them having it out in-character between sessions, with Quentin eventually coming to a place of grace that shamed Jak for the better, and was a significant turning point in the young man’s story.
  • Re: using Lestok’s name, it’s true – Jak had literally never used Lestok’s name up to this point. He likes nicknames to keep people at an arm’s legnth.
  • Lestok ended the minotaur encounter by encouraging him to embrace more cowbell. Because someone had to. And that someone is usually Lestok.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 12: You win some, you lose some

With the battle over, Jak was making little headway questioning the captive goblin when Quentin requested his help stabilizing one of the attackers who had survived the fight, but was bleeding profusely from a leg wound.  Jak patched up the unconscious young man while Kayde went through the pockets of the others, finding some interesting trinkets such as a Kundarak key, a button emblazoned with the symbol of House Orien, a branding iron that Jak recognized as belonging to a local viscount who often sold his livestock in Sharn and, much to Lestok’s delight, a small coin of an indeterminate metal with a hole in the middle.

Meanwhile, Aruget took the opportunity to question the goblin, who was far more receptive to him than he was to Jak.  The goblin, whose skin was of an unusual dark brown colour with orange molting patches, told Aruget he was a mercenary returning to Ardev after a pilgrimage to the Six Kings. He refused to answer further questions until he was untied, and though Jak felt he was in no position to negotiate, Kayde and Quentin insisted, and Jak reluctantly set the goblin free.  He proved to have or give no further information – professing no knowledge of who captured him, or why – and after retrieving his dagger from a corpse, he insisted Aruget take a small silver necklace as thanks and then made off down the road.

By this point, the captured archer had woken up, and was very aware that he was in a bad way.   While Jak had a “casual” chat with him, Lestok put the fear of Dolurrh into the hapless fellow by convincing him that he was a feared arch-enemy of his lieutenant, the escaped dwarf.  The young man – whose name was Jeffin – proceeded to stammeringly tell the party everything he knew.  He told them that he was a scout for the Emerald Claw, working under Captain Warrick…and the party’s old friend Demise.  While Demise wanted a policy of non-interference on following the Kech Volaar party to the Six Kings, Warrick disagreed.  He believed the captured goblin was a scout for the Dhakaani.  Still terrified, Jeffin suggested that perhaps the dwarf, Lieutenant Sesko, knew something about Warrick and Demise’s plans, but he didn’t.  As the party took the opportunity to process this information out of earshot, Quentin suggested that he might have a way in the future to make contact with Jeffin, and proposed using him as a mole.  Jak was opposed to the plan, since Quentin had let slip to Jeffin that they were working for Captain Kalaes, and he felt that Jeffin should not live to bring this information back to his superiors.  However, Jak was overruled by the others who did not consider this slip of the tongue a threat.  They untied Jeffin and allowed him to retrieve his weapon, and agreeing to Quentin’s offer of being his eyes and ears in the future, he took off running towards Ardev.

The party continued on, and the next night they were camped when Kayde split off and followed a shadowy figure into a copse of trees, which led him to an unmarked headstone with a large bottle of liquor beside it.  The figure spoke to Kayde, saying “please take this, it has more use for the living.”  Sitting in the grass next to the bottle was a ring.  Kayde took both items, thanked the empty air, and returned to the group.  They shared a good night of delicious drink, during which Quentin was able to deduce that the ring Kayde had found emanated warmth that would protect its wearer from cold, wet weather.  The next day, on the road, Quentin was also inspecting the goblin’s silver necklace – something about it was bothering him, but the answer was just on the tip of his mind.  As the road got rougher, and he became more distracted, he tripped and the necklace flew out of his hands.  It plunged into the nearby river and was swept away.

As the road grew more wild, the plains became more barren, and eventually Kayde and Quentin heard a couple of horns call out in the distance, wondering if they were hunting horns or perhaps a form of communication.  A couple of hours later, Lestok smelled a hint of wood smoke on the air, and the party eventually came to the mouth of a narrow canyon that the road led into.  Jak caught sight of a single gnoll archer on one of the slopes and put his hand on Kayde’s shoulder, suggesting that they not startle him.  Kayde agreed, and insisted on going on alone to confront the gnoll, which Jak protested.  Kayde continued to insist, saying he could take care of himself, and Jak said he knew that, but Kayde should call out the moment there was trouble, and he reluctantly stayed back.

Kayde walked forward and loudly hailed the gnoll, who immediately nocked an arrow as a minotaur emerged from further down the canyon and demanded that Kayde pay a hundred-galifar toll for the privilege of using the road.  Behind him, Quentin climbed a tree in order to see what was going on, but a branch broke under his feet, sending him crashing to the ground.  As Kayde chuckled and suggested that they could surely lower the price of the toll, his hubris combined with Quentin’s ruckus enraged the minotaur, who lowered his head and charged.  The next thing Quentin, Aruget, Lestok and Jak saw was Kayde’s body come flying end over end down the canyon and drop to the ground in a broken, bloody heap.  As Aruget sprung into action, Lestok hastily coated Jak’s quiver of bolts with his G.I.N.S.U. cutting oil, and he joined the fray to avenge his friend…

Behind the Scenes

  • For some reason, prior to this week, I didn’t record our weekly warm-up question. The GM put a lot of work into creating these, for fun character building and an extra bennie at the beginning to each session. This week’s question: Who is one of your closest friends?  How long have you known them?  What is a story of your time together?
  • Kayde isn’t completely dead, but the party doesn’t know that. The GM bennied both a successful attack and successful damage roll for something like 4 raises on the attack and 7 on the damage, knocking Kayde instantly out of the fight and the only reason he’s not making a character sheet this morning is because – with no bennies left going intothe fight – he got very lucky on his “don’t die” vigor roll and subsequent injury table.  Walk it off, buddy!
  • While the party was lucky to have a “spill the beans” card to play on the EC scout, Lestok went the extra mile to put the fear of Dolurrh into that poor kid by doing an epic gnome-based paraphrasing of M. Bison’s “for me, it was a Tuesday” speech. I’m afraid I didn’t transcribe it because I was laughing so hard.
  • G.I.N.S.U.? Well, remember on the airship, when Lestok was investigating a mysterious oil in the engine room? This is it! It’s how he’s flavouring his Smite power, to add +4 damage to any weapon it’s applied to.

Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 11: Trouble on the cliff

The hidden archer’s arrow whistled past Lestok’s ear; unhurt but gravely offended, the old gnome was not prepared to let this slide!  Quentin quickly tried to take out the cliff from under the archer’s feet, but only succeeded in causing a small cascade of dirt and pebbles, and that was when he and Lestok noticed the second archer.

Meanwhile, Kayde and Jak, unaware of the trouble their friends were in, continued to sneak around a large cluster of trees towards the sounds of the argument/interrogation and got a better look at the captive, a goblin being interrogated by a well-armored dwarf.  Aruget, caught between both pairs and not entirely sure of what was happening, decided to follow Jak and Kayde.  Unfortunately, neither him nor Jak proved as stealthy as their Phiarlan friend, and the dwarf put his men on alert as four more bandits appeared out of the woods. They proved to be surprisingly nimble and well-armoured, not wearing any noticeable insignia but moving like a trained group. Their leader, the dwarf, even managed to disarm Kayde with a well-timed parry, sending Ashtura’s blade out of his hands and down to the ground.  Thankfully, Kayde was never without a backup knife, and quickly drew a second blade.

Back on the south end of the cliff, Lestok put his Fumigator 9000 to work, overwhelming one of the archers while Quentin managed to disarm the other, scooping up the bandit’s bow and holding it out in front of him as a last line of defense.  The enraged former archer rushed Quentin with a dagger, shoving it up under his rib cage, but Quentin was able to push her away before the knife could get in far enough to be fatal.  Wounded but not down, Quentin along with Lestok rushed forward to find the others locked in a battle of their own.

After a heated battle rife with bad aim, bad breath, and one well-placed loogie, Aruget’s powerful and graceful shield dancing saved the day as he easily dispatched two more bandits and disarmed the dwarf, causing him to cower under his shield and flee along with one of his people.  The party gave chase, but quickly lost them in the unfamiliar terrain, despite Aruget loudly scolding the dwarf to come fight him one on one instead of running and bringing shame to his kin.  As the party surveyed the carnage, their attentions turned towards the reason for all this mess: the mysterious goblin captive.

Behind the Scenes

  • This session was all about getting lucky. The archer who had the Drop on Lestok completely whiffed. The one who rushed Quentin got a success with four raises on a d4 dagger, and would have instantly dropped him had he not been able to make a good soak roll. Which begs the question, how does damage work in Savage Worlds? Glad you asked…

Instead of AC, all characters have “parry” (which must be met in order to score a hit) and “toughness” (which must be met in order to do damage). Instead of hit points, all characters have wound caps. Extras – random minions like the archers – can take one wound before dying. Wild Cards – which is what some tougher enemies and all PCs are – can take three wounds before they are incapacitated. Any Wild Card who has bennies to spend can, upon gaining a wound, try to use those bennies for “soak rolls” where they roll their vigor die. Every multiple of 4 soaks one wound, effectively negating the damage. Makes sense?

  • Speaking of luck, Jak made two great tests that earned him his first trips to the Creative Combat table. Tests are actions that allow you to try to make a target distracted (which gives them a -2 penalty to hit PCs) or vulnerable (which gives you a +2 bonus against them). Tests can be anything from intimidation attempts, to shooting the wall behind someone, to saying “hey, your shoe’s untied!”, and when you roll a raise on a test, the Creative Combat table will earn you things like making the target both distracted and vulnerable at the same time, causing them to flee, or other nice bonuses. He spit right in the dwarf’s eye, with two raises. Gross, but effective.
  • What is shield dancing? Shield dancing is how Aruget flavours his protection power to increase his and his allies’ parry – he goes into a graceful flow that sends out the light of his patron Sovereign, Dol Arrah. Yet another cool trapping from this group!