Waving Daina over to join him along with Rus and Torlan, Trucco leaned forward in his seat and told them that he had a fantastic story to tell. He’d had a great idea, a wonderful idea — one he came up with all by himself, he declared, winking at Rus — and it had led him to sneak into the quartermaster’s stores while Grok was away. It had been an extraordinarily challenging task. There had been a lock — no, five locks, one of which was a magical lock that had summoned a manticore — and after he chased the beast all around the hold and ended it, it disappeared as the chest it had been guarding opened in a burst of light. It was there, inside, that he saw a knife — the most beautiful knife that, he believed from what he had heard, belonged to someone here?
Throughout Trucco’s wild tale of fighting a manticore in the quartermaster’s, Daina listened with a bemused expression, not entirely sure where the incorrigible rogue’s epic bullshit was going…and as he drew her tago knife out of his jacket, everything changed. She froze, her eyes grew wide, and she intoned in a quiet and solemn voice, “that belongs to me.”
Trucco’s grin grew wider as he spoke of how he had heard that Daina and the others had been trying to gather enough money to trade for the knife. He did not wish to diminish their previous investment, for it must feel awful for someone else who was much better than them to come along and get the job done right under their noses and —
“How much do you want?” Rus interrupted, his voice hard. Trucco shrugged with a sly smile. “Ehhh, there is something —” “How much do you want?” Rus repeated, his eyes matching his voice now. The rogue’s grin grew wider. “I will give it for free…but there is one condition.” Daina stared at him, saying nothing. He continued. “When there is a moment, when we get around to it, of sweet, sweet revenge…I want to take Scourge. I want him all to me.” Daina’s face remained expressionless. “All you want is first crack at Scourge?” “Yes,” Trucco replied, his eyes gleaming with anticipation of all the ways he’d been dreaming of taking down the Storm Reaver’s sadistic taskmaster. “Well,” Daina replied, “have fun.” With those words, she held out her hand, and Trucco placed the knife in it.
Cradling the ornate hilt of her tago knife in one hand and its long, delicate blade in the other, she forced herself to look back up at Trucco and asked him how he’d known to look for it. Trucco sighed. He had, he grudgingly admitted, had some help. Tossing one of the bottles of acid he’d plundered over to Rus, he thanked Daina’s fellow soldier for the information. Attaching her tago knife to her belt where it belonged, Daina glanced over at Rus. She was, it went without saying, fairly certain that Trucco had not in fact had to fight a manticore to win this prize. But if the way in which he had acquired it came back to bite either Rus or the rogue, she wanted to know about it. Daina had, she observed, been told many times on the Storm Reaver that property was only considered someones so long as they were able to keep it. And perhaps Grok considered herself protected from that custom, but if she couldn’t keep that knife, it wasn’t Daina’s problem. Trucco agreed that the quartermaster clearly didn’t take her responsibilities seriously, and insisted that he had done a clean job and left no trace. Daina replied that she wasn’t implying anything about Trucco’s skills, but merely that she wouldn’t want to see him get in trouble for doing her this service. Rus wondered if there had been any traps on the locks he’d opened. No, Trucco replied, not aside from the manticore. Rus humored him as the rogue continued to expand on his story, speaking of how the manticore had spoken to him and tested him with riddles. “Well, that was different from the ones I practiced with, with the Ghorad’in” he drawled. Trucco insisted that the one he’d fought was very chatty, eliciting a laugh from Daina — the two of them had something in common, then. Rus explained that the reason he’d asked was because he’d noticed that there were many locked and trapped doors on the ship after hours, including the map room beneath the forecastle, which might be worth a look. “I knew you were a clever guy!” Trucco declared. “I knew it from the moment I saw you!”
“Yes,” Daina interjected quietly, “it seems he is.” Turning her full attention to Trucco, she remarked that it seemed to her that the reason he did what he did was because he enjoyed doing it. She didn’t think he’d had any idea what he’d actually done that night other than have fun going through Grok’s stuff, but that was alright. He had her most sincere thanks. Trucco agreed that it had been fun, but had he known how important this knife was to her, perhaps he should have asked for more. Daina’s face went dark as Khyber at that as her hand dropped to the hilt of her newly returned knife and her fingers began to run across it. Trucco immediately began to backpedal as he held up his hands and insisted that he had just done his good deed for the day and excused himself from the table. Daina glanced over her shoulder at Torlan quizzically. “I think I scared him off.”
Holding out a hand to catch Trucco as he began to leave, Torlan — who had been quietly standing behind Daina’s chair throughout the conversation — commended him on being an excellent storyteller. Perhaps, as a payment, the old talespinner could assist the young rogue in giving a proper performance? He also remarked that he had come into some money of his own recently, and if Trucco ever had need of it, he should come to Torlan for help. Trucco wondered aloud if this is what co-operation was. He’d done something for Daina, asking little in return, and now Torlan was offering something to him freely as thanks. This was different, and nice, and unexpected! “It’s traditionally what happens when someone has a friend” Daina replied with a smile. She explained that she and Torlan had always looked after their own, and while she reiterated that she didn’t reckon he knew what he’d done aside from have a little fun, he could now consider himself under Daina’s protection. “With how you treat that knife,” the rogue replied, side-eyeing her hand casually playing over its hilt again “that would be a benefit for me!” Daina chuckled. This knife, she replied, wasn’t for fighting.
Trucco raised an eyebrow at that. It was a beautiful knife, very well-made and well-designed, seemingly with good balance like the ones he preferred to throw. No, Daina replied, hers wasn’t balanced for throwing. This knife wasn’t meant for violence. Trucco was Cyran — had he never seen a tago knife before? He pursed his lips. He hadn’t spent his life in the nicest parts of Metrol, though perhaps he remembered seeing one such knife at a party. Daina smiled again and told him that she herself hadn’t seen Metrol until she was sixteen. This knife, she explained, was something that folks used to dance with each other when they wanted to court with each other. “Or make war” Rus piped up. “Excuse me?” Daina raised an eyebrow at that. “Or make war” Rus repeated. No one talked as much about the moments in the dance where you were supposed to let your knives clash. It was a fight, and you weren’t supposed to let your hands touch. But when folks did, Rus mused, well, that was when stories got told. Daina shrugged. She hadn’t known that about the tago; she herself had only danced it the one time. Turning back to Trucco, she told him that this knife of hers was a gift from someone who was long gone and, as she had said, he was under her protection now. She would prefer if he did not do anything excessively stupid to make that protection harder to give, and she would give it all the same to the best of her ability, but he needed to understand that there was only so much she could do on board the Storm Reaver to guarantee his safety. But he had her word that she would try. “Of course!” Trucco replied. “But when we get more power, there will be opportunities to be even more stupid!” Shaking her head with a smile as her hand idly began to play with the handle of her knife again, she mused that she was never one to back down for a challenge and clearly neither was he, but…nevermind that. They’d be together come what may.
As Trucco excused himself at last to get more grog and mull over this new, unfamiliar, and somewhat uncomfortable circumstance of what appeared to be genuine friendship, Daina looked over at Rus with a small smile. “Well, Rus of the Northern Cross” she said, “it seems that you have attained your goal too.” “I can’t possibly know what you mean by that, Miss Daina” he replied. She shook her head and chuckled. “It’s just Daina. Or, if you’re feeling extremely fancy, Sergeant ir’Lizani. But she’s back in Cyre.” Torlan gave the two of them a sidelong glance and excused himself to go work on the tale of Trucco’s duel with the manticore, but Rus kept any further thoughts to himself, and he and Daina finished their drinks in silence.
The remainder of the evening came and went as usual, and over the next couple of days the Storm Reaver was noticeably limping as it approached a small, isolated island where the ship’s artificer Hakrili Quarn saw to some more repairs. Though Master Scourge and Mister Lagraa’s cruelty towards Daina and her friends had ramped up, she had found herself largely insulated from their attention working down in the galley under Fishguts’ command. Things did not go as well for the others. Over the following few days, Rus, Torlan, and Trucco found themselves assigned to nothing but the duties they hated the most, something Master Scourge was clearly taking pleasure in. Trucco was confined to line work, a job which had him working the sails but not allowed to climb into the rigging where he so loved to be. Rus did nothing but swab the main deck, Torlan found himself down in the bilge on rat catching duty, and the old dwarf couldn’t help but shake the feeling that Scourge was deliberately making an effort to isolate them from each other. It was becoming obvious to all four of them that firm lines had been drawn within the crew, and that those who cozied up to Scourge and Lagraa and had become more hostile towards the newcomers than they even had before while those who had been agreeable towards them seemed even more at odds with Scourge and Lagraa’s sycophants. Down in the galley, Daina decided it was time to broach the subject to Fishguts. Where exactly were these lines being drawn, and which side of them was he on?
He growled at that. He’d told her many times that this ship was poison, a cancer for the soul. And who said he was on anyone’s side? “Everyone’s on a side, Fishguts” Daina replied. “What do you think will happen if you try to stay in the middle?” He snapped back that everyone had to eat. She frowned, frustrated. If he was suggesting that he’d be on whichever side wound up on top, she couldn’t help him with that. But as she’d said before, if he wanted her help, she’d have it, and when she got off the Storm Reaver, she’d take him with her. He reminded her that Prince Mika owned him, having won his life as a stake in a game of cards, and she repeated the lesson she was now taking to heart that on this ship that something was yours only so long as you could keep it. The Captain might own Fishguts for now, and Daina didn’t intend to own any man, but she might be able to take from the Captain something that was hers. Fishguts laughed in her face. There seemed to be no breaking the hopelessness that held sway over his soul, but as she returned to her work, Daina made a small prayer to any Sovereigns who were listening that one day, she might be able to help the incorrigible dwarf she’d found herself looking on more and more not only with pity, but with fondness.
For his own part, Trucco had been consoling himself after three miserable days of line work by regularly sneaking down to have dinner with Owlbear in the cargo hold. He found the big, simple, genial man an easy person to unburden himself to. Owlbear didn’t ask the kinds of uncomfortable questions that Daina and the others did, and seemed to have no expectations of him either beyond the occasional happy interjection that rarely had anything to do with what Trucco was talking about. It was a pleasant arrangement for both of them as Owlbear enjoyed the company of another person, and Trucco found a way to express the not unpleasant but thoroughly foreign emotions he’d been finding start to take hold in him.
The next morning, Torlan and Daina found themselves increasingly on edge as the tension they could feel in the air continued to simmer just below boiling. Up on deck, Rus tried to approach Aretta again in hopes of hearing her commit to being on his side, but she had become rather standoffish and cold towards him. It was the 6th of Olarune, and after putting Trucco on his hated line work once again and informing Rus in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t have trouble finding a reason to beat him that night, Master Scourge ordered Torlan down into the bilge with Sador, Arzak, and Jaundiced Sudak to pump out more water that had found its way in during the last storm. Torlan recognized Sador as one of the ones who had jumped him and the others on their second day aboard along with Sudak, the mute orc who had clearly taken a special hatred of him ever since. Ducking into the crew quarters on the way down, he took his harp from his footlocker and consulted its auguries. As his fingers danced over its strings, the notes came back to him jarring and dissonant. Glancing over at Tamroth Scrimshaw, who was minding her own business from a distance, he was yelled at to keep moving. Seeing no other choice, he made his way down to the bilge with the others.
Back on the main deck, it was business as usual. Rus was scrubbing, Trucco was coiling ropes, and Daina was for once out of the galley and fishing. As Rus worked, keeping to himself after his failed attempt to win over Aretta, Tamroth Scrimshaw approached him. Leaning down and lowering her voice, she told Rus that there was a major problem. Torlan had killed three members of the crew.
“Oh, Khyber” Rus breathed, his eyes widening. “Okay, where? We gotta hide the bodies. Show me. Take me to him.” As he began to follow Tamroth back towards the stairs, Master Scourge appeared and barked at him to get back to work, and that he’d be getting three lashes for laziness. From her spot at the rail where she was fishing, Daina could see and hear Scourge preventing Rus from leaving the deck, and she knew that the former skyknight wasn’t one to tempt fate by shirking his duties. Loudly announcing to anyone in earshot that she’d better get her catch down to Fishguts before it began to stink as badly as he did, she made her way over to Rus and whispered, “going somewhere?” He whispered back that he’d better go check on her godfather — Torlan had been sent to catch rats in the blige, and it seemed he’d killed some folk.
“Well to Khyber with you, asshole!” Daina yelled in Rus’ face, putting on a show for Scourge. “I’m a way better chef than Fishguts will ever be!” Making her way down into the hold, trying to hurry without looking like it, she tossed her fish aside into a corner and carefully opened the hatch down the ladder to the bilge, steeling herself for what she might find.
Hearing the creaking of the planks above him, Torlan startled as he saw his goddaughter appear. “Oh, Daina” he gasped, his voice quavering. “Listen, you don’t want to come down here. You don’t want to see what’s happened down here.” Ice clenched at Daina’s guts. “I think I do,” she replied, her words slow and cautious as she began climbing down the ladder to see him slumped against the hull, covered in blood, tired, hunched, and — for the first time in her life — scared. She dropped down, water sloshing around her ankles, and knelt down beside him, placing her hands on his shoulders and trying to meet his eyes. “Uncle…what’s wrong?”
Ten minutes earlier…
Dropping down into the bilge, the clear signs of danger Torlan’s augury had given him were confirmed by his eyes as he took note of the knife tucked into the hobgoblin Arzak’s boot. The signs had been clear, and even if they hadn’t, Torlan was no fool. They’d attacked him and the others on their second day aboard, they’d never forgotten how he’d turned the tables on them that day, and now, with the storm that had been brewing for nearly a week as Scourge and Lagraa and their lackeys had ramped up their attention and cruelty towards Torlan, Daina, and their new friends, he could see the writing on the wall. He’d been forced down into the bilge this day with three cruel, angry pirates who hated him. He saw no other choice than to act before they did.
As he joined Sador in the work at one of the pumps, going through the motions of working, he waited for the right moment until the large orc’s back was turned…and then everything went red. With a wordless, guttural cry, he launched himself at the pirate, slitting his throat with the knife that had been hidden in his own boot, killing the man instantly. Whipping around, Arzak slashed his knife across Torlan’s chest as the old dwarf, now thoroughly in the throes of a blood rage, shrugged off the attack and rushed Jaundiced Sudak — and stumbled on something below the water line, falling backwards. Windmilling his arms to try to catch his balance, his wild flailing caught Arzak right in the eye as Torlan’s knife drove home, dropping the hobgoblin where he stood. Falling with him, Torlan lost his grip on the knife now firmly lodged in the dead man’s skull as Arzak’s body rolled away from him. As Sudak, undeterred, moved in to finish the job with her trademark leering grin, Torlan rolled out of the way of her blade and retrieved his knife from Arzak as he got to his feet. Backing up towards the ladder, he demanded to know who else was involved, and if he was their only target. What of his friends? She responded with nothing but a sneer and continued moving in, but Torlan was faster, and his blade angled up beneath his nemesis’ arm and into her vitals. It was over.
He had no time to think before Tamroth Scrimshaw appeared at the opposite hatch. She’d heard a commotion. What was going on? He shouted back that he’d been attacked, and slain them all, but there was no time — he had to get to the others.
“Oi, lad” Tamroth breathed, “I think you’re in big trouble.” “I think we’re all in trouble,” Torlan insisted, and he asked her to go find out if the others were in trouble themselves. Torlan asked her if there were any other witnesses, and she shook her head and replied that he’d be getting keelhauled. Torlan interrupted. “Will you help me or not?” She agreed to check, and he told her to make haste.
A few minutes later, Tamroth returned. It was business as usual up on deck. Daina and the others were fine. “Ohhh shit,” the old dwarf sighed. “Well, are you still willing to help me?” Tamroth just stared at him. What did he mean? There were three bodies here in the bilge. He insisted that he wasn’t asking her to put herself at risk, but Daina, Ruskel, and Trucco needed to know the situation — they’d know what to do. He was exhausted. His rage fled his body, and he slumped against one of the gunwales as Tamroth left him again…
“They were going to try and do for me” Torlan insisted, looking up at Daina with frightened desperation. “I had no choice.” She closed her eyes. How many were there? He told her it had been two orcs and the hobgoblin. They’d been armed. And he’d killed them all? “Aye,” Torlan replied. “Aye, I did.” Daina steeled herself. It was time for her to be strong for the one who had been strong for her all these years. Tightening her grip on his shoulders, she leaned in even closer.
“Torlan, listen to me. There’s no way we’re sneaking those bodies out of here, so we need to do one of two things. First thing, this morning Trucco tossed our friend in the blue coat a bottle of acid. I don’t know how well we can do that with all the water down here, but it might do the trick—” Torlan cut her off. Had there really been no one making a move against her or the others? It had been a strange few days… “No!” Daina shouted, fear rising in her throat. “I’ve been in the kitchen this whole time! Torlan, we need to get off this ship. We need to get off this ship right now.” There were longboats, and they’d have to take their chances. They couldn’t stay on the Storm Reaver anymore. “But the signs, Daina!” the old dwarf protested. “The omens! They weren’t good! I did what I had to.” Daina’s eyes grew even wider. He’d had a sign, and he’d come down here anyways? “What else was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Shirk my duties, not come down here, get whipped again?” “Yes!!!” Daina cried, panic creeping into her voice. “Yes, that would have been better! It would have been much, much better!” Gathering herself, she started thinking out loud. No one else would be down to the bilge for a while, except for anyone who knew that Torlan and the others had been down there. Who else knew? Torlan shook his head. The assignments had been called out by Master Scourge in front of the entire crew that morning — everyone knew. Maybe Daina was right; maybe they should steal a longboat and try to get him off the ship.
“Get us off the ship” Daina corrected him. Torlan shook his head again. “What are you saying?” she demanded. “Of course I’m coming with you.” “You can’t, Daina!” he protested. It had to just be him who took the fall, when they came after him. “Do you think I’d do any better if I stayed behind?” she retorted. “No,” she said, quiet and sad, “you’re not leaving me behind.” Desperately searching for a plan, she noted that it was late morning, and no one was likely to come down to the bilge for some time unless Tamroth had raised an alarm, and she hadn’t last Daina saw. “No, she’s a good lass” Torlan murmured. If she hadn’t raised an alarm yet, she wasn’t likely to betray him.
Daina got down to business. First, she was going to clean him up, because he was a mess. Next, they were going to walk out of the bilge like there was nothing to hide. They would find Rus and Trucco, figure out their next move, and if she and him were going to leave that night, they were going to leave that night. Cradling the back of Torlan’s head with one hand, she dipped her handkerchief into the water and began wiping the blood from his face. It was dark, filthy bilge water, but for once, he didn’t protest, and they sat in silence as Daina worked.
Satisfied that she’d washed away the blood as best she could, Daina ordered Torlan to go to the cargo hold where it was quiet. He was to do nothing, speak with no one, and draw no attention to himself, and she’d be back soon. “Okay” he replied, his voice quavering again. “I’ll do what you say. Be careful.” “I will” she promised. Clutching Torlan to herself in a quick, fierce hug, she hurried back to the main deck to seek out Rus.
The work day was in full swing and the deck was bustling. With a private conversation out of the question, she decided to keep up her ruse, announcing that Fishguts was flat on his ass drunk again, and she needed Rus’ help carrying a barrel. He declared that if that was what the galley needed, then he’d certainly help, but as he began to follow her, Scourge appeared behind him again. “That’s another three lashes for laziness!” the taskmaster yelled. “Get back on the deck!” Daina stared Scourge down. She only needed Rus for a moment . Fishguts was hammered again, and she couldn’t carry that barrel on her own. Getting up in Daina’s face, Scourge sneered that neither Fishguts nor her held any authority on the deck — he did. So she should go take care of her own problems. “Go,” Rus said quietly, and not seeing any other choice, she returned belowdecks alone.
Making a beeline for the galley, Daina found Fishguts completely incapacitated from his drinking again. Reaching down, she squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry” she whispered, and left him behind, expecting that this would be their last meeting in spite of the promise she’d made.
From his hiding place in the cargo hold, Torlan heard footsteps approaching. He could see Master Scourge’s mate Salty making his way towards the bilge, and the ship’s gunner Master Crines — with a swab named Gragoth in tow — entered the hold and came straight for him. “You stay right there” Crines ordered, as he and Gragoth moved to box Torlan in. As Daina came down the ladder to the hold, she heard a call go out. “We’ve got some bodies down here! He’s killed them!”
Drawing his sword on Torlan, Master Crines ordered the dwarf to disarm himself. “They attacked me first” Torlan insisted. “It was self-defense.” Master Crines repeated his order, his voice growing harder, and Torlan threw down his knife. As she made her way down the stairs, Daina met a swab named Patchy going in the opposite direction. He looked at her sideways and told her she didn’t want to get involved. “What happened?” she asked, feigning ignorance. He informed her that Torlan had killed a few crew members, and had to answer to Prince Mika Rockface for his crimes. “Bullshit” Daina declared. “Even if he did kill anyone, do you think they wouldn’t have started it?” Patchy sneered that killing anyone on the Storm Reaver was a punishable offense, and Daina retorted that if that were the case, why was Lagraa still here? Patchy had no reply other than to tell Daina to go back to the galley. Out of the corner of her eye, Daina saw Torlan shaking his head. Nodding back at him, she began making her way topside as she desperately tried to figure out how to get him out of this mess.
There was no time to do so. Torlan was immediately brought up before the quarterdeck, where Mister Lagraa and Prince Rockface herself held court as Salty announced that Torlan had killed Sardor, Jaundiced Sudak, and Arzak. The Prince looked directly at Torlan and demanded to know what he had to say for himself. “Aye, I killed them” he admitted, “but it was in self-defense.” He insisted that the three of them had had it out for him ever since jumping him on his second day aboard, and that they must have conspired with Scourge to corner him in the bilge alone — but they had underestimated him. What, he asked, would she have had him do? Her response came fast and swift. She ordered Mister Lagraa to put Torlan in the sweatbox — a small, solid metal box with nothing more than a few holes for air — and she’d keelhaul him tomorrow.
Turning to Rus and Trucco, Daina whispered that she had to get Torlan off the ship. Trucco asked if Torlan had done what he was accused of — not that they didn’t have it coming — and she replied that he had. She only saw two possible outcomes for her and her old godfather: one being to fight her way out of the situation, which she couldn’t do alone, and the other being to escape. Torlan had made a few friends, and so had she, and so had Rus and Trucco, and the latter nodded that they had a few cards up their sleeves. Meanwhile, some of Scourge’s lackeys were trying to cram Torlan into the sweatbox. It was so small that even a dwarf had a hard time fitting in it, and his captors were not gentle. As they shoved at him, the rusty hinges of the door began to creak and pop, and it was clear that they would not be able to confine him in it. Dragging him over to a slightly larger cage on the poop deck, they tossed out the skeleton that had been occupying it and shoved Torlan inside as the parrot perched on top began to caw. He was still trapped, but perhaps he wouldn’t suffer as badly.
Returning her attention to Rus and Trucco, Daina whispered that if the keelhauling was going to happen at the usual time, she had twenty-four hours. Torlan had twenty-four hours. And she couldn’t save him alone.
All of a sudden, a loud shout went out from the crow’s nest. “Ships ahoy!” Looking up, Daina spotted a large, three-masted ship emerging from the far side of the island the Storm Reaver had been skirting as Mister Lagraa ordered the crew into action, Torlan’s crimes forgotten for the moment. It seemed that the Prince would have her prize at last. The hunt was on.
Behind the Scenes
- The quote at the top of this week’s recap is a line uttered by Amos Burton in The Expanse, and I could think of no more appropriate summary for this week’s adventures.
- Question of the week: What is your greatest fear, or worst recurring nightmare? It turned out to be a rather spectacular coincidence that Daina’s greatest fear is that she will outlive Torlan. The question wasn’t planned (Phillip rolls on a table at the start of the session to see which question comes up that week), and us players certainly had no idea what kind of events this session would hold, but I absolutely made a sarcastic remark during the bilge scene that this is why you should always lie through your teeth when the spicy questions come up. 😉 (Don’t do that. Seriously, don’t do that.)
- Trucco’s return of Daina’s tago knife meant that I finally got to bust out the one Hindrance I haven’t been able to play to yet in this campaign: her Quirk. When she is concentrating, or otherwise lost in thought, her hand idly plays with the hilt of her tago knife — which can, as we saw in this session in which Ernesto had no idea about her Quirk in or out of character — be easily misinterpreted as hostility, or a threat, if someone doesn’t recognize this particular knife’s purpose. Quirk is one of my favourite Hindrances because it is so personal. It’s described in the rules as a minor foible that can occasionally cause the hero real trouble, and it’s easy to get a lot of mileage out of — in fact, Daina’s not the first character of mine who’s had a Quirk, but hers is completely unique to her. It’s an unconscious fidget that I maintain she doesn’t even realize that she does, which is why she was puzzled when Trucco hastily turned tail and tried to run after they were just having a very friendly conversation!
- So…how about Torlan, eh? 😀 Real talk, Michael was faced with an incredibly difficult situation that he had to solo, and how he chose to play out the bilge encounter was in my opinion a fantastic character and story moment that then set me up for a fantastic moment of my own as we shared our scene of Daina dealing with the aftermath. But we’re talking about Torlan here, so here are a few notable notes from that fight:
- In the second round, Torlan — with his Hesitant hindrance that requires him to draw two action cards and take the lower — drew a ten of clubs and still came out at the top of the initiative order…and that was when he critically failed his attack on Sudak. And you might be wondering why a critical fail resulted in him being able to instantly kill Arzak on his way down, because that kind of boon is not a typical outcome, but what happened was that he was finally able to use the new Edge he took in our first advance, which was…
- Berserk! This is an edge with quite a few moving parts, so let’s break it down from the top:
- Berserk kicks in immediately after the character becomes either Shaken or Wounded, at which point they must make a Smarts roll or enter a blood rage. They can choose to voluntarily fail this roll.
- Once berserked, Torlan’s Strength die increases by 1, his Toughness increases by 2, and he can ignore 1 point of wound penalties (which stacks with any other edge that reduced wound penalties) — but all of his melee attacks must be Wild Attacks, which give him a +2 to hit at the cost of making him Vulnerable (giving his enemies +2 on their rolls against him).
- Which brings us back to, why did Phillip allow Torlan to have a free attack on a critical failure? That’s weird, right? The final piece of the Berserk edge is that rolling a critical failure on Fighting attack while berserked results in the hero attacking a randomly determined foe — or friend — within their range. In this particular encounter, Torlan was only surrounded by enemies, and that’s why despite falling prone and temporarily losing his knife, he was able to take Arzak down with him.
- Those of you familiar with Savage Pathfinder may have noticed that this is one of the ways in which we’ve deviated from its rules regarding class edges. In Savage Pathfinder, Berserk is removed from the general Edges pool and restricted to being a class feature of the Barbarian. We said “no thank you” to that at our table — Torlan actually has a Bardic arcane background — and so Torlan is now a talespinning, harp-playing old dwarf who might occasionally fly into a blood rage when his back is against the wall…which in my opinion is exactly how Savage Worlds should be.
- As far as highs and lows go for a session, this one was a total rollercoaster. From finally getting Daina’s tago knife back after eleven weeks and being able to play out her Quirk at last, to having a really good in-character reason to bring Trucco into her circle as the last missing piece of the party members she’s sworn to protect, to the cascading series of events in the bilge that had the whole table alternating between riotous laughter and some pretty intense sobriety culminating with one hell of a multi-faceted cliffhanger as we break for the holidays, “rollercoaster” is perhaps an understatement…but it was also my favourite session of this campaign to date. I’m not going to say it wasn’t nerve-wracking, but tension isn’t always a bad thing, and I am extremely excited about what comes next. See you in the new year!