Sunday 24 March 2024

Turn 54: The Thrappled Lemmings and The Amazing Minotaur (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 It was market day in Fikaby and everyone was in good spirits because the Thrappled Lemmings had reopened the roads to free trade.

"The beer must flow," said each villager to their neighbours as they went about their daily business. It had become a greeting in the village thanks to the Thrappled Lemmings.

"The beer must flow," said Hannah Rustinale, proprietor of the Halfskinned Eel (there was a story behind that name) to the Lemmings as they took their breakfast.

"The beer shall flow," chorused the Lemmings back.

In the spirit of the statement, they knocked back more than usual quantities of beer, but no one minded because the Lemmings had gold to spare these days, and hanging out with the locals was generating a lot of good will at some small cost in that gold. While the others drank, Drogo trained. He was determined not to get wounded so badly again. Meanwhile, Onesipe was busily selling the triptychs they had found.

After the important business of the day was done, Lysanthir convened a party meeting over dinner. The agenda was where next to seek treasure. The debate was hot, but the majority of the group opted to seek out the monster lair to the north of Fikaby. It would be doing their hosts a service, which might lead to free beer, and the monster almost certainly had a decent hoard of treasure for them to plunder. This decided, they went to bed early, ready to rise at dawn and head out after the monster.

The approach to the monster's lair was straightforward, and, as usual, Fulrad was volunteered to scout the area for the entrance to the monster's den while the others hung back and prepared themselves. Lysanthir drank the Fiery Wine which felt like a bad case of acid reflux, but the ability to breathe fire was novel for him. The others did their stretching exercises and waited.

Fulrad sneaks up on a pig

Fulrad sneaked through the low hills and light woods north of Fikaby. His senses were attuned to the noises around him, the sound of Wido whining behind him, the rustling of a pig in the woods ahead. He stepped carefully and approached the first likely location that he needed to scout. There was a pig here.

Wait! That's no pig!

A Minotaur was eating it. He had found the monster and caught it by surprise. He called the others forward and took up a position on the edge of the woods where he could still see the Minotaur as Sir Thiebault, Drogo and Wido formed up to advance on the beast. Onesipe and Lysanthir joined him.

The Thrappled Lemmings gawk at the supposed pig

Sir Thiebault gave the signal. Onesipe, Fulrad and Wido fired in unison. Onesipe missed by a good country mile, while Fulrad's shot was stopped by the beast's armour. Wido's shot stunned the monster. Lysanthir breathed fire in the beast's general direction, missing wildly.

Drogo charged and his axe cleaved a deep wound into the Minotaur's flank. The Minotaur bellowed as Drogo's next swing went wild and it flung him 30 feet through the air to land winded and gasping. Sir Thiebault raced in and found himself also flung back to land beside Drogo, although his armour prevented him from being hurt worse than that.

Lysanthir was the next to fly through the air as the Minotaur charged him. He had got too close and got off lightly as he landed unhurt thanks to his armour. Onesipe and Fulrad retreated to stand beside Lysanthir. Wido charged. Unable to hurt the Minotaur, he was still able to push it back. Sir Thiebault, thinking to aid Wido charged but was thrown through the air. The only thing that saved him from disaster was his armour. Drogo followed up and carved another slice out of the Minotaur's flanks. In a furious melee, Drogo found his speed and suddenly his axe went snicker-snack. He cut more wounds into the creature which was driven back, but charged again, only to face Drogo's axe once more. Drogo swung and cleaved its head in two.

The Thrappled Lemmings conclude that all those recent knocks on the head have taught Drogo how to fight at last!

Breathing hard, the Thrappled Lemmings looked around for loot. It seemed like the Minotaur had mostly been hoarding the weapons of those that tried to slay it. The Lemmings gathered up a selection of weapons that they found and headed back to Fikaby to report the news.

Well, that was a battle of two halves! At first I thought that the Thrappled Lemmings had forgotten to sharpen their weapons, because all they rolled were 1s when trying to get past the Minotaur's armour of 1. Then suddenly Drogo found his Vorpal Axe of Snicker-Snack and slew the monster in the course of two full rounds of melee. That really could have gone a lot worse, and nearly did.

Monday 18 March 2024

Turn 53: The Thrappled Lemmings Help the Beer Flow (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 Wido woke one morning with a sore shoulder. By the end of breakfast, everyone else was sick of his complaining, but still it went on. To get away from the moaning, Drogo and Fulrad headed off to train until the group was ready for today's patrol. Sigrid the Beggar was in Fikaby at this point and she told Lysanthir something useful about the surrounding area. Her travels gave her access to a lot of information, and it was quite likely, Lysanthir surmised, that she was more than just a poor beggar. Nevertheless, he gave her a few gold pieces to tide her over and keep her on side.

With the business of the day sorted, the Thrappled Lemmings headed out on patrol once more.

"The beer must flow," was Lysanthir's explanation.

"The beer must flow," chorused the others.

Their patrol began well, and they encountered Arngrim the Priest who told them that the roads seemed much safer already, but that he had seen some dodgy people on his journey. He directed the Thrappled Lemmings to the place where he had seen them. The party headed off in that direction. It was heartening that Arngrim had not mentioned seeing any Orcs at all, so these must just be the usual run of the mill robbers.

As they patrolled up the road, they heard cries from up ahead.

"Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!"

"Ah, no, please, I don't have anything of value. I am just a poor merchant!"

"Ha! A 'poor' merchant? Yes, I have heard that one before. And, of course, you always pay your taxes on time and in full! Hah! Right! Hand it over! All of it! We are tax collectors, not robbers, and we are here to ensure that Jarl Bodvarr receives his rightful share, so that he can continue to protect people like you from robbers and brigands and bandits."

The Thrappled Lemmings needed to hear no more. They raced forward, splitting up to cover both sides of the road.

"Ware Lemmings!" cried a look-out, who had seen them approaching at the last minute.

The bandit leader ordered his men into position. The merchant, who did not look that poor after all, took the opportunity to race off to safety in the woods.

"I really don't need this," moaned Wido, "My shoulder hurts."

Onesipe started the fight by firing at the armoured bandit who had given the warning.

"Tis but a flesh wound," cried the bandit.

One of the bandit crossbowmen fired at Onesipe and wounded him. Onesipe returned fire and wounded the bandit, who fired back again and laid Onesipe out.

The bandit leader and his sidekick attacked Fulrad and Wido, but were pushed back and Wido wounded the sidekick before killing him. The wounded crossbowman took to his heels at this point. He had done his bit and someone needed to survive to tell Jarl Bodvarr what had happened to his taxes.

Wido and Fulrad attacked the bandit leader and it was not long before the leader had fallen. Drogo and Sir Thiebault did the same on their side of the battlefield and slew a bandit. As the bandits fell one by one, it became too much, and the last two bandits fled for home, both wounded. The Thrappled Lemmings held the field once more and were now certain that the beer would flow, as it must. The crossbow bolt that had felled Onesipe had merely knocked him out, and he was soon up and complaining about his headache just as much, and just as irritatingly, as Wido was complaining about his bad shoulder.

The merchant had fled leaving a bag of elegant triptyches that the Thrappled Lemmings would sell well and another sack of fine cheeses and bottles of wine, so the Lemmings could count the day a proper victory. They returned to Fikaby for a celebratory ale.

"Well, that's the roads open again. What say we head back to the Temple and plunder it for all it's worth?" Lysanthir asked the group. A hefty debate ensued as they considered their options.

Sunday 17 March 2024

Turn 52: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Bad Wolves (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 Once more the Thrappled Lemmings were feted by a tavern keeper. This time it was the owner of The Brimming Stein who paid their bills and benefited from their presence. Even with the cost of the various breakages, the owner came out ahead on this deal. Wido spent a Mark on getting the dent removed from his helmet, while the others spent time meeting and drinking with the locals. Based on the tales told in the tavern that day, it was a wonder the Lemmings were not each 10 feet tall, so great was their prowess in battle. Then it was time for a trip to the market, where more Tonic was purchased and they sold as much loot as they could. Lysanthir also spent some time researching the tales of monsters in the fog. He identified this monster lair as being near Haitabu.

With the business of the day seen to, the Thrappled Lemmings chose to go on patrol in a bid to make the area safe for beer deliveries everywhere. As they patrolled the area around Fikaby, they chanced upon some unsavoury types making life hard for a humble pie maker.

"Wolves," announced Fulrad, "and they have an Orc champion with them. Can't allow that, can we?"

The Thrappled Lemmings split into two groups to cover more ground. They needed to scout the area to make sure they had cleared out all the wolves before they were done. Lysanthir, Onesipe and Wido took the left flank and the others the right.

Fulrad, Drogo and Sir Thiebault advanced quickly through a wooded grove and made sure it was clear. They could hear the wolves ahead of them, but could not see them yet. The area was covered in small copses and low hills, so it was not possible to see far at all.

Onesipe and Wido were the first to see wolves, as they crested a low rise. They paused and took aim. Onesipe's crossbow shot wounded a wolf, and Wido finished it off with a bow shot. The remaining wolves charged forwards and were soon snapping at our heroes. As a wolf came rushing forward, Fulrad wounded it with an arrow, then Sir Thiebault stepped in and cut it down. Onesipe wounded the champion with a crossbow shot, and Wido finished him off with an arrow.

Suddenly four more wolves burst out from the top of a wooded hill nearby. They charged the Thrappled Lemmings and soon Wido and Drogo were in a desperate fight for their lives. Wido drove back his attackers and wounded one of them. Drogo was wounded himself. Lysanthir cast a quick healing spell on him. Fulrad shot one of the wolves and this loss was too much for another of them which fled with its tail between its legs. With the wolves' numbers much reduced, the Thrappled Lemmings were quickly able to defeat the rest of them. Barring minor cuts, none of them were hurt, so they looted the corpses and headed back to the Elf's Rest for a hearty dinner and a post-prandial drink or three.

From scouting the corpses and from a crude map in the pouch of the Orc champion, the party leared of two areas that could bear exploration and might be sources of loot. They also found a bottle that Lysanthir identified as Fiery Wine, a magical potion that allowed a person to breathe fire for a short while.

Saturday 16 March 2024

Turn 51: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Bandits' Trap of Inescapable Doom (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 It was harvest time and Fikaby was a hive of activity, as the Thrappled Lemmings could clearly see. They were fascinated by this and were offered pay if they would help out, but they decided that watching other people work was hard enough without actually exerting themselves to do it too. This created a bit of bad feeling, and they found themselves being charged a supplement for their dinner. Drogo spent part of his time at the healer, being ministered to and declared himself fit to fight shortly after. Meanwhile, Lysanthir spent time practising his spells and doing research. He soon discovered that one of the monsters in the fog had its lair to the west of Elsfjord Kloster (-6 Adventure Points). While this was going on, Onesipe was at the market buying more Tonic. It was pretty much a certainty that it would be needed again soon.

Later, the Thrappled Lemmings prepared to march out of Fikaby. Their plan was to patrol the area for the last remnants of the Orcs, who were hindering trade and robbing people. Their secondary goal was to find a small chest that one of the village elders had been robbed of. It did not take long for them to chance upon a likely  group of unsavoury Orcish robbers who were up to no good. The robbers challenged the Thrappled Lemmings to hand over their worldly wealth, but the Thrappled Lemmings were reluctant to do so. And that is how the fight started.

Red arrows show Orcish movements. Blue show the Thrappled Lemmings

Wido raced over to the nearest bandit and was promptly wounded. Driven back, he gave the bandit time to fire a shot at him and he was taken out of the fight. The bandit sergeant raced up the hill towards Fulrad. Sir Thiebault charged. The bandit sergeant died. A new group of bandits appeared as Lysanthir recovered the box. Fulrad and Onesipe fired as fast as they could but their shots did not count for anything. Drogo raced to the fray in the field and slew two bandits in quick succession. Soon there was nothing to see but dead bandits near the road and the dust from the two who chose discretion over valour. Wido was unwounded, but his helmet had taken a solid hit and was damaged.

The Thrappled Lemmings returned to town, where they learned that monsters had taken up residence in some old ruins near Haitabu. They toasted this potential new source of income and drank the night away together, happy that Wido was unharmed.

That went a lot quicker than expected. The only problem was Wido getting carried away and charging on ahead of the others. He will know better next time, we hope. As it happened, Drogo just carved his way through the bandits who arrived as a result of the Unknown Enemy marker. My missile troops were rubbish though. There is now a new delve on the map, and we have identified a previously unexplored area as a monster lair. It would be really quite easy to continue this campaign until the map is completely full of adventure sites with the way the random events go. So many side quests, so little time!

Sunday 10 March 2024

Turns 49-50: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Mist-Clad Warband (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 The day dawned bright and full of promise, in part because Drogo was still alive. Fulrad had found a nearby cave that seemed dry and they had all camped there for the night. Sir Thiebault had spotted a large stag and had gone off in pursuit, and Lysanthir was out looking for herbs and medicinal plants. Onesipe's first job was to feed Drogo some Tonic to help his healing. He would still not be able to fight on this raid, but he would live and they could collect him from the cave on their way back from the raid.

Sir Thiebault retured a short while later. Jarnhauss the Mule was laden with animal pelts that could be sold for a goodly sum at market. Lysanthir returned with two portions of Springwind Berries. He and Sir Thiebault ate them as the party headed out to the Orc camp.

Fulrad reported back to the party, "Doesn't look like there are many of them, but there is some kind of Hellbeast with them. I don't like it!"

The party made good use of cover and it was only when Fulrad crested a rise on a low wooded hill and had a view to the camp that they were spotted and the alarm was called. Fulrad's first shot only annoyed the Infernal Spawn and it responded by charging up the hill at him. As this action unfolded, Lysanthir called out a warning.

"There's more of them coming!"

He had spotted a new group of Orcs returning to the camp. As he called out this warning, Wido raced to join the melee. The Trollslayer engaged the Infernal Spawn and cut it down with two strikes of his trusty war spear. He quickly drew his bow and loosed a shot at an Orc archer, wounding it. A rapid melee followed. Two Orcs died and one discovered that it wanted to be somewhere else instead and took rapid steps in that direction. Of the remaining Orcs, two were wounded, including their commander who bellowed at them to attack the Lemmings. The last of the Orcs attacked and were quickly cut down. Even the Orc lieutenant proved no match for Sir Thiebault, who dispatched him easily.

With none of their number hurt this time, the Lemmings had plenty of time to loot the Orcs' camp. The loot was good too. A pair of magical boots, some camp gear and a decent hoard of gold Marks were added to documents indicating the summoning site for the Infernal Spawn, a place that might be worth investigating further.

"Well, I reckon those Orcs are not going to be bothering us again any time soon," commented Sir Thiebault.

"There will be songs sung in the taverns about us now, right enough," said Lysanthir.

"Yup, I'm looking forward to hearing The Ballad of Wido the Hellspawnslayer," Wido agreed.

Lysanthir gave Wido a sour look and then The Thrappled Lemmings gathered everything up and headed back to where they had left Drogo. They would leave for Fikaby in the morning.

As it turned out, the following day was miserable. Still, they fed Drogo more Tonic and prepared to set out. As they did so, a humble priest begged leave of them to shelter in their cave. He introduced himself as Godi Jon, a godi without Hof or home but who roamed Utavoll to wherever his services were needed. The Thrappled Lemmings shared their breakfast with him, told him their tale and then each parted in different directions as friends.

On the way to Fikaby, Sir Thiebault hunted and returned with two large wild boar that would feed the Lemmings for ages if they preserved the meat. Lysanthir foraged for herbs and found a single dose of Springwind Berries.

Upon their arrival in Fikaby, all the talk was about a monster that had been spotted in the fog. It appeared that spotting monsters in the fog was fashionable now.

That's a lot of Five Leagues from the Borderlands this weekend! The Orc threat has been destroyed and I can see an end point in sight for the campaign. There are a few levels of The Temple delve to complete, and I feel like the Lemmings would ride patrol so that new trade can come in to the settlements. Beyond that, it is tempting to clear out all these monster lairs. There is likely to be a lot of treasure in these places, so the Lemmings would gravitate towards them. That could mean a dozen more turns, depending how badly Drogo gets injured each time, but I do not see the current arc continuing beyond that. I have made mistakes with the rules along the way, and still find myself missing things occasionally in the heat of battle, but I am happy with how it has all gone so far, and do not feel like the mistakes have advantaged or disadvantaged me in the long run. I wonder if all of the Lemmings will survive to the end of the arc though. Drogo seems to be getting hurt more and more. On the other hand, Wido is really turning into a monster killing machine, so maybe he can keep Drogo alive if I run out of Story Points for that purpose.

I do not have The Ancient Land of Dust supplement, so it is tempting to get that, but I prefer physical books to pdfs, which leaves me on the fence, even if it would provide a new direction for the next arc. Ah well, there is still time, and I do plan to focus on something else for a while after this campaign reaches a natural stopping point.

Turn 48: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Ravening Man-Beast (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 With their recent victories over the Orcs, the Thrappled Lemmings found themselves being feted in the Drunken Kobold and did not have to put their hands in their purses for a while. They made the most of this, but the tavern keeper still came out ahead as the locals flocked to the tavern to meet the heroes of the hour. Despite the free beer, Sir Thiebault and Drogo spent time training, while Lysanthir talk their most recent haul of loot to the market to sell it. He also took the opportunity to buy more Tonic. He had a feeling they would need it again, so best to stockpile. With the business done, the Lemmings reluctantly left the tavern and hit the road. They had heard of an Orc camp to the north in Orkheim and were going to burn it to the ground. The Orcs were causing a lot of trouble for the locals and hindering both trade and beer deliveries.

The journey to the camp was uneventful. It rained a bit and Wido complained a bit, but this was normal. The mountains of Orkheim were hard going, The advantage to them was that there was plenty of cover, so sneaking up to scout the camp was easier than usual. The main body of the Orc force was gathered around a camp fire in the ruins of an old mountain person's hut. Other Orcs were on heights around the place as sentries.

"Bad news," announced Fulrad, who was the Thrappled Lemmings' designated scout, "They are Orc main force warriors and they have a Ravening Beast Form with them."

"A what?" asked Onesipe.

"A werewolf, dumbass!" replied Fulrad, "Don't get bit!"

Onesipe muttered at that but held his peace. He knew better than to squabble when they were preparing to attack someone.

"Right, follow me. I think I have found a way to get close to them without being seen too soon," declared Fulrad.

He led the way. The party wormed their way around the hills and across the rocky ground. They had got as far as a rocky hill before Fulrad was spotted.

"CHARGE!" yelled Sir Thiebault, because it was now tradition that he do so.

Suddenly, there was a horde of Orcs charging towards the rocky knoll that Fulrad was standing on.

"Orcs, lads! Fahsands of 'em!"

As the Orcs raced towards them, the bulk of the party took up a position on the rocky knoll that made it hard for the Orcs to reach them easily. The archers of the party loosed arrow after arrow, but only Onesipe wounded an Orc. Sir Thiebault charged the flank of the Orcish advance and slew the first hostile. The Orcs were not made of stern stuff, and this caused one of their number to flee. Lysanthir took this opportunity to race for the Orcish camp.

"I'll check and see if there are more of them there!"

As the Orcs swarmed the hill, Fulrad was wounded, but his Harness of Vengeance inflicted a wound on his opponent and he pushed it back. The werewolf assaulted Drogo and cut him down as if he wasn't there. It's bloodlust up, it immediately leapt at Wido who fended it off for a moment and then thrust his spear through it. This was more than its regenerative powers could handle and it died impaled by Wido's spear. With their leader dead, the Orcs were demoralised. That did not stop three of them charging Sir Thiebault, who cut each down in turn, although he was wounded in the process. Wido slew another Orc and Lysanthir looted the Orc camp. The remaining Orc looked at the corpses of its comrades and fled.

"That's another Orc camp pacified," announced Sir Thiebault as he and the others bandaged their wounds and checked on Drogo who was very badly hurt and would clearly take a while to heal.

As they did this, Fulrad was checking around. He returned to the group a short while later.

"Hey, I found tracks leading away. I followed them and there is another camp with more Orcs nearby. I know we have weakened the Orcs considerably, but we should probably do something about that now."

So, the final random event of the turn turned up another Orc camp in the same area. I guess this is the dice's way of telling me to finish off the Orcs!

Saturday 9 March 2024

Turns 46-47: The Thrappled Lemmings Recover (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 It took a couple of weeks for the rest of the party to start talking to Lysanthir again. It helped that Lysanthir found a wandering healer to help Fulrad. Between the Tonic they fed him, trips to the healer and plenty of rest, Fulrad was soon ready to get his revenge on the Orcs. While it cost them half their savings, they reckoned it was for the best, and they would recoup the money soon enough.

As soon as Fulrad was better, the Lemmings sat down to plan their next raid. There was an Orc hideout to the north of Fikaby and within a half day's travel. This would be their target. They set out. Many a black look was directed at Lysanthir, who knew to take the hint. He would not run this time.

The Orc hideout was well defended and well fortified. Large Orcs massed on the battlements with archers and there were sentries all over. The rocky hills here provided some cover, but the last part of the approach would be over open ground. This could get messy.

The Thrappled Lemmings took up position on a hill overlooking the Orc's hideout. Lysanthir, determined to prove himself, raced off from their position towards one of the sentries. He was spotted immediately.

"CHARGE!" yelled Sir Thiebault unnecessarily; the Thrappled Lemmings knew the drill.

Arrows flew. An Orc was wounded. And suddenly Orcs were swarming from all over towards the Thrappled Lemmings. Sir Thiebault was the first to engage an Orc with his sword and soon found that these Orcs were tougher than average. Fortunately, his armour held. Drogo raced to aid Lysanthir, whose desire to right the previous wrong had got him into real trouble.

Drogo ploughed into the side of an Orc. Several blows later, it lay dead. Sir Thiebault was wounded by the Orc he faced. Onesipe and Wido quickly ran out of ammunition without hurting any Orcs. Lysanthir fought furiously against the Orc but the only thing that kept him alive was his Ring of Protection which warded off the blows. Eventually, he managed to sneak a blow in below the Orc's guard and it fell, but it had been close. Meanwhile, the remaining Orcs were storming towards the Thrapple Lemmings and their archers were firing from the battlements, wounding Drogo.

Wido charged in to aid Sir Thiebault. The Orc died, caught unawares by the flank attack. In a lull in the fight, Sir Thiebault and Drogo both bandaged their wounds, only for Drogo to be wounded again as one of the Orc captains assaulted him. The other captain attacked Wido and was driven back. An Orc soldier then died at Wido's hands.

The Orc archers concentrated their fire on Lysanthir, who was nearest them. Luckily, his pocket diary took the hit for him as one of the arrows struck his chest. However, it was too much for one of the archers, who ran upon seeing his comrades falling.

Then Fulrad put an arrow straight through the ears of one of the Orc captains. He pumped his fist and turned to find a new target. Sir Thiebault and Wido worked together and soon Wido was able to slay the captain. With their captains dead, the remaining Orcs were quickly slain or fled as fast as they could. The Thrappled Lemmings held the field and the supplies that the Orcs had been stockpiling. They took the valuables, destroyed the rest and returned to Fikaby for dinner. While eating their dinner, they learned that a monster had been spotted in the fog. No one knew where its lair was though.