Torchbearer – Cursed Lands
Year Two – Session 1
September 2, 2019
Ten years ago today a band of adventurers met their demise in the bowls of the first tree. They had cleared the badlands of bandits and Crowthron started to thrive once again. However, this was short-lived. They agitated the Cult of Loathing and raiders began hassling the Crowthron. Additionally fires sprung up in the old forest, for the Raiders were intent on seeking revenge on the Adventurers. That was season one.
Now years later a new group decided to take up their quest, this time to unlock the Silver Seal. The gate that isolates and imprisons the elves in their citadel, Aelfhiem. An elvish bow that the had been sold by the previous adventurers turned out to be the fabled key to the Silver Gate. An old elf heard the tale and eager to free the those looked in Aelfhiem and save the forest, sent forth his pupil to retrieve the bow from a vault beneath a guild house in the ruins of Crowthorn.
Aelfwynn is a lithe elf, with a silver belt buckle of his order. The Rangers of the Silver Seal. He was tasked to retrieve an elven bow by his mentor.
Roman is a young man with a dark cloak and an orange sash tied at his waist. Seeking the means to escape poverty for him and his mother, he went with Alfwynn because of his unique ability to unlock doors might make the vault a piece of cake.
Korbuzier is a scrappy whaling wizard’s apprentice. He still wears his sailor’s hat fondly. He was caught in a lie of deeds he has yet to do. Embarrassed, he seeks glory above honour.
Beliefs, Instinct and Goals
Belief: A forest is in ruin, and it is everyone’s responsibility.
Goal: Find the bow in the ruins of Crowthorn.
Instinct: Always blaze a new trail.
Belief: Glory above honour.
Goal: Find my crewmates.
Instinct: Always assess threats.
Belief: The function of the people is to rise against suffering.
Goal: To make it to Crowthorn.
Instinct: Retreat to camp when things look rough.
The opening scene.
The party makes there way south through the badlands towards the Crowthorn ruins. Its windy pathways, filled with cliffs and shrubs. The path turns, and the cliffs open up to skies. The skies are dark and blackened to the west, and the east is filled with smoke billowing out from the forest. In front of the raining darkened sky lies a Castle in a state of disrepair ringed by a moat and defences. Over far to the east stands a great foreboding Cathedral.
The leader Aelfwynn wants to maintain the groups Fresh rating and so laid out the plan for them to follow. It was his instinct to scout ahead so he would trigger it and gain a check, planning to fail, getting them into trouble. Another person had assessed trouble instinct. While the last adventurer had retreated to camp instinct. They would get in trouble, access it and retreat.
The gate of Crowthorn stands erect, a short march away. An effigy of a crow adorns the gate. The pillars beside the gate are the only stonework on the southern half of the wall. The southern wall and town reduced to ash. The party decides to look around and peaks out left and right. On the left, they see a broken and desecrated shrine. On the left, they see a man.
The man spots them and begins to hobble away. When the group gives chase, he falls to his knees. He is an old battered peasant, and he begins to plead for his life, but upon clearing the muck, begs to leave so he could continue running. The group questions him about a bow, which he had no idea about. His name is Arhcant. After wishing a safe journey, Arhcant warns of pig-men that hounds people of this region, including himself. The pig-men ambush and trick people that seek refuge in ruins.
Korbuzier stops to recall lore about the pig-men. He is searching for any fairy-tales or folklore about such creatures.
Turn 1 of the Grind
Ob 2 Loremaster test Korbuzier manages to gather 4 dice to his pool. He had an exponent of 3 in the skill, and he is Fresh for an extra +1 D. The roll is a 4, 6, 6, 3. The roll manages to get 3 successes (4, 5 or 6 is counts as a success).
He successfully manages to recall several stories. Some say it’s a vile curse, a twisting of the spirit made manifest that made the pig-men. Others say that it must be a will participate in the vile ceremony. While others claim both. All the stories say that the great hulking pig-men like to brutally trick their victims, preferring to strike from an ambush.
After the meeting with Arhcant, the adventurers peak through the center of the gate and see a marketplace. In the center of which stands, a well and a gibbet with another man slumped against the cage.
Foreseeing an imminent ambush, the ranger Aelfwynn asks the group about a plan to sneak in. But ever the rambunctious Wizard, Korbuzier simply climbs the gate to see if he could spot any pig-men hiding, from atop his vantage point.
Turn 2 of the Grind
A beginners luck Scout test for Korbuzier. His pool is 3 because of his Will of 5 and one from fresh, divided by 2 because that’s how beginners luck works. The hidden pig-men were rolling 4 dice. I roll first and get 3 successes: 6, 5, 1 and 6. Korbuzeir rolled 2nd and gets a 4, 6, 6, and 3. Tied, if not for Korbuzeir’s Fate (that he inherited from a previous character). For some reason, he rolls only one die and gets a 6. We tell him to roll another, and he gets a 4. The six on the Fate roll means he can keep rolling: 6, 6, 6, and finally a 1. A total of 8 successes against the pig-men’s 3. He was indeed lucky. The players cheered and are blown away. He really can do magic.
He spots one clear as day, as he moved from one side of a window to another one the second floor of a two-storied stone building. Additionally, Korbuzier hears a gruff voice pretending to be in distress.
Aelfwynn abandoning his conservative plan, since Korbuzier didn’t get any checks, leads the party around outside the gates and makes they way to the building from behind. He intends to sneak up behind them to get a good look at where they are and how many. Sneaking around was a good idea, and he spotted 3 tents around a fire behind the guild house. There is a set of outside wooden stairs that lead up to a motel-like a walkway. The upper floors hold what looks like apartments and the lower floors hold storehouses, shops and workspaces. This was the guild house.
Turn 3 of the Grind
Aelfwynn’s intent is to sneak through the camp and up into the second floor. He gathers his dice. He only rolls 1 Dice, he uses calm against himself. Too calm when he should be careful [forgot his fresh]. He was rolling against 4 dice, 4 from nature. Aelfwynn: 4, for a total of 1 success. GM: 2, 5, 1, 4, for a total of 3 successes. Aelfwynn fails but gained a check. Useful to camp.
He makes it to the stairs, and one of the pig-men opens a flap of the tent. The pig-men stretches and starts poking at the fire. Aelfwynn is pinned down with the party on the stairs. Either carry on into the 2nd floor or sneak past back through the camp. In haste, he decides to continue sneaking, up the stairs to the nearest door, carefully staying low. It was a good idea since for the most part with the pig-men making noise from camp masks the sound above, and the ambushers periodically detract themselves with trying to lure someone to help the man in the gibbet. Making it to the 1st door is a good idea. It’s locked, so the thief was up.
Turn 4 of the Grind
Open the door!
Roman rolled 2, 2, 4, 3, and 3 against an Ob 1 criminal test, barely making the test.
Removes everyone’s fresh and gives everyone hungry and thirsty.
In an empty apartment now, they spot an ornate desk that was too big to be carried out in the exodus. The decide on waiting out the pig-men and to try and ambush during them during midday, or shift change. They have a drink of wine from Roman’s jug. They finish a jug between the three of them. The pig-men tending the camp yells for his sleepy-headed ally to wake up. Another one exited and helps tend the fire. That’s when the cook demands meat from the others. Both the pig-men, that were lying in wait to on the second-floor, left to go to the basement. Two is too many to ambush, so Aelfywnn waits some more. One of the pig-men goes to cut the arm off the man in the gibbet, (he was past out) and starts screaming. He is very near dying. The pig-men cook and begin eating it at there bonfire.
During high sun the pig-men go to sleep (they seem to be nocturnal).
Aelfwynn decides that the best course of action is to sneak in to murder them in their sleep.
Turn 5 of the Grind
They were like sneaky assassins!
Aelfwynn leads the scout test to sneak into the camp while the pig-men slept.
Dice pool for Scout is made up of the base stat 2, +1D Help with Roman being stealthy with scout sneaking into a different tent, +1D Help from Korbuzier since he knows how to stalk prey from his hunter training, +1D from fresh and +1D from trait calm. He knew that once in the tent, a calm hand and foot was needed to swiftly slit the pig-man’s throats. 6 dice against the pig-men’s 6, Nature 4 with two helpers, they were going after the only two tents that held three of the pig-men. That is 5, 6, 5, 1, 2, 1 versus 3, 2, 4, 6, and 1; or a total of 3 successes for Aeflwynn and the rouges versus 2 successes for the poor torturous pig-men.
Successful sneak and then a good idea for the murder, narrated by the party. The party finished their business quickly and effectively against 3 of the vicious pig-men.
I borrowed Let it ride from another game, arguing that without the snoring of his friends the final one falls into a deeper sleep. So no roll to sneak up to the last pig-men. They decide to capture him, and I begin questioning if it was easy with three against one while he sleeps. I decide to lean into Good Idea’s, so I awarded it to them. Following my decision to do so before the game.
After tying up their remaining pig-men they get ready to question him. They ask him for information. Persuader test to convince the last pig-man to tell them where the bow is. Well, actually it is to convince the pig-men to believe the ranger that they will let him go since he doesn’t believe him.
Turn 6 of the Grind
Aelfwynn beginners luck test. 3, 5 against 4, 2. The pig-men didn’t have a relevant nature descriptor so rolled half dice as well.
A Tied persuader test.
Aelfwynn calls upon his firstborn trait and states that elves are notable destroyers of unnatural beasts for thousands of years, the pig-man has no reason to trust him. And so failing the test, and seeing no reason to let him go, they finish off the last pig-men. The guild house was clear. They decide that they should camp in the Guild-house apartments throughout the day, and make their way come morning.
Turn 7 of the Grind
A successful establishing camp test.
It was a typical danger level now that the pig-men were taken care of. And since they made camp in the apartments, I gave them shelter for free. Ob 1. Aelfywnn survivalist: 2, 6. So he makes the roll.
Camp event 2d6+1 rolls a 9, a safe camp. The grind resets to 1 and holds until the group spends all earned checks and exits the Camp Phase.
Good Idea to make rain trap with gear and environment for the next time it rains.
1st Check: Alchemist Test to purify a bucket of well water they extract. 2, 4 against Ob 1. With success, they can fill their jug.
2nd Check: Healer test to make an ammonia-based smelling salt rub, that will help awaken any tired adventurer. 2, 4 against Ob 1. Success, they have barely enough room so the Wizard holds it in his hand.
3rd Check: Cartographer Test to map the camp. 6, 1 against Ob 2, spend fate and got a 3. Hands covered in blood from restaining the pig-man ruins the map. He has to let both his hands and map dry before scrapping it off and recovering the parchment.
Back to the Adventure Phase
They decide to roll the body as a team around the corner of the guildhouse. Its good idea to move a body a very short way. While they moving it the group spots some sort of animal in the ruins of a sister guildhouse across the market.
Korbuzier assesses danger. Scout test to identify what kind of animal. 5, 6, 4, 2 three dice from beginners luck and a persona point for one more, versus test 4, 1.
It’s a giant rat and they decide that it equals a new way to dispose of the bodies. Its devours and swarms things. Hauling the body across the market place is too far to be considered a good idea.
In hindsight, I gave the wrong test, even though fictionally they were trying to get a good look at it they wanted nature information and the kind of animal to assess its risk, so it should have been a good idea to move closer to look and hunter test to figure that out. I gave the information anyway and realized my mistake mid-test. I informed them of this after play.
Turn 1 of the Grind
Aelfwynn decides to lug body across the market place. Beginner’s Luck Labourer test: 4, 5 versus Ob 2. Success!
Dumping the body they see a few rats go for the body and begin devouring it. They start their exploration of the much more ruined guildhouse: the apartments are not emptied like the other guildhouse in good condition but the stuff is in ruin from the fire, and the main floor is half-collapsed. As they traverse the main floor to inspect the items on this floor it collapses. Everyone rolls a health test to avoid falling into the basement.
Turn 2 of the Grind
Health tests for all! Ob 2.
Health test to avoid the collapsing floor.
Aelfwynn: 2, 5, 1, 5, two successes!
Roman 5,3,4, two successes!
Korbuzier 4, 3, 2, one success…
Korbunzier’s fall through the floor. Mid-sentence he falls through the floor with a crack. He is in a basement, it is lit from above from the holes in the floor but parts of it remain in darkness. Exploring the basement reveals 3 Giant Rats eating the body of the pig-man, a large unfinished armoire, and the dark basement they can’t see into. Further investigations of the armoire reveal its locked.
Turn 3 of the Grind
Criminal to unlock a simple armoire lock, Ob 1.
Roman 4, 4, 3, 2, 4. One help from Korbuzier who kicks the armoire effectively making the lock pick a bump key and it opens easily as it loosens the lock.
Success and goods. In the armoire, there is a wheel of cheese, a small sack and a simple wooden chest. Almost at once Roman declares its a trap without even looking at it. And Korbunzeir takes the lead. There is a breakdown of me asking questions from the player who plays Korbuzier. I think he is trying to have a good idea and me, not understanding, what he is even saying is having a hard time justifying how it would defeat the lock continue to ask questions to get a better idea. The player becomes frustrated. Korbuzier just tries to force the latch.
Turn 4 of the Grind
Poison shoots out
Ob 2 Health test to avoid a poison needle. Korbuzier rolls 4, 3, 5. With a total of 2 successes, he meets the Ob.
Success and the goods, again. A Scroll and a pile of copper coins.
In hindsight, I should have said it was a good idea and let him narrate it. If it is a question or sounds like it might bypass my trap, I should’ve let is be a good idea and let him describe and just narrate how his action bypasses it.
Everyone is hungry and thirsty again.
They take a quick drink of water sipping from the jug again, and as the adventurers are trying to figure out how to carry any of the good, the credits roll.
Aelfwynn: gets Fate for defeating the pig-men. They are partially to blame in the ruination of the forest so to defeat them is in line with his belief; searched for the bow so gets Fate for working towards his goal; didn’t make a roll for blazing a new trail so no Fate for that.
Roman: his belief was awarded because he tried to ease the suffering of the gibbet man; I awarded him Fate for his goal, I should’ve said we are starting at Crowthorn so he had no opportunity to make a more relevant one (in my opinion the GM fault shouldn’t hurt the players. I should have caught that at the beginning and said that we are starting at Crowthorn); his instinct to retreat camp when in danger didn’t come up since they handily defeated the danger.
Korbuzeir: glory above honour, did not have action towards the belief; he made no move to find his crew so no reward for the goal; awarded a Fate for triggering the instinct to assess the danger
Group rewards are 1 persona a piece.
MVP: Korbuzeir was eventually nominated for MVP for that monster of a beginner’s luck roll that spotted
Teamworker: Roman, helped with most tests h could.
RP: Aelfwynn was awarded for his many Good Ideas that followed from the fiction.
The naming of the session: