Saturday 20 May 2023

4-11 Klarmont - The sweet smell of being crushed by predatory plants

 Broneslav leaves the room he was in and heads back to the corridor with the sweet smell coming from it. The smell gets stronger as he goes down the corridor and there is some vegetation or root matter on the walls that appears to glow faintly. The light gets stronger the further he goes down the passage. Suddenly, he realises that the vegetation has moved. The passage is blocked in both directions. As the roots swing closer to him, he swings, severing several (2 DAM), but it is not enough to stop the others closing fully on him. They begin to crush him (1 DAM). He cuts again but his movement is too restricted and the plant continues to squeeze (1 DAM). His next attempt is better and several of the squeezing roots are severed (2 DAM). This eases the pressure temporarily, but his desperate attempts to cut free are not yet enough and he feels a rib snap (1 DAM). The pressure continues and he starts to weaken badly as the roots crush the breath from him (6 DAM cumulative). Finally, he manages to get a better grip on his sword and slices hard. The roots fall away and he falls to the ground, his breath coming in tight painful gasps. The damn plant had nearly done for him where warriors and monsters had failed!

He binds up his wounds and heads back up the passage towards the meeting hall. It is now empty, and he is able to search the area. He finds two secret doors. One leads to the passage that Anton Radu had followed to his doom. The other leads to a cell where an elf is chained to the wall. The cell stinks and is unlit apart from the light from Broneslav's shield. The elf looks half dead, but his eyes open and blink hard in the light that Broneslav brings.

Broneslav quickly learns that this Elf is Estaish, a member of the Duke's Elvenguard and a witness to the evil perpetrated by the Veiled Society. With Broneslav's help, he is able to limp back to the room where Zweis Radu lies bound but no longer unconscious. There Estaish reclaims his gear before he and Broneslav make their way outside with Zweis as their prisoner. Battered and bruised, the pair take their captive to the nearest Watchhouse. The pair are soon telling their tale to a Tribune of the Watch, while Zweis looks on them with hatred in his eyes. Unfortunately, the testimony of a member of the Elvenguard and the papers that Broneslav has brought with him are more than enough to condemn anyone, even someone as wealthy as Zweis. The verdict is clear and is confirmed when watchmembers have searched the underground meeting room and its associated rooms.

Broneslav (Level 4)


A week later, most of the Veiled Society members have been arrested. Some escaped, but their power is broken and the most important members of the Society are dead or in irons. The court case will take a while, but there is little doubt that even the surviving members will soon face the headsman's axe. Moreover, the entire Radu family has been declared anathema for their leadership of the Veiled Society and their incitement of the riots in the city. Their wealth has been confiscated and those that could not be proven to be directly involved have been exiled with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

A week later, Broneslav has recovered from his fight thanks to the ministrations of the family healers and a week of total rest. Milka, she of the white skin and rose red lips, has been round to see him several times, her eyes wide with wonder at the change wrought in him in just four months. It was clear that she believed he was now a man and not the boy she had challenged to take the Shearing Ceremony. Unfortunately for her, he had changed in other ways too, and the soft pleasures of her prattle were no longer for him. He had a goal in life now. He saw that he could make a difference and that his interest lay with those who sought to do likewise, rather than those who chattered about how the neighbours wore last year's fashion. And he was going for a drink with the Tribune of the Watch this evening. Who knew where that might lead?


That's the end of B1-9 In Search of Adventure. I really thought the Sirenflower was going to do for him just as he had succeeded in taking down the Veiled Society! However, Broneslav got out of its clutches and saved the day. I can't believe it took me this long to get back to these adventures, but I just stumbled over a mapping issue and it stopped me in my tracks. I finally just ignored the issue, so the maps in the last few posts have not been precisely what I wanted but they are serviceable. Perfection is the enemy of done, as I am wont to say, and it is true.

So, where next for Broneslav? Answers on the back of a £10 note to the usual address please. I'm currently thinking of moving on to the X-series adventures with X1 The Isle of Dread being the first. I'll need to spend a bit of time putting together the maps for this, but it particularly appeals because I still have my original copy from when I first got D&D but I do not recall ever playing it. The other option is to head off to The Temple of Elemental Evil. I recently got the Goodman Games reprint of ToEE that comes as a 2-volume hardcover set in a slipcase with a reprint of the original adventure plus a 5th edition updated version. It is glorious and makes me want to run the whole thing, although I feel like it is a campaign that I should begin with a new character from level 1 so that I can experience it properly. We'll see which option I feel like, when I stop being swamped at work and have a brain to think with again.

Saturday 13 May 2023

The Ruin Within: Bandits and brigands for Five Leagues from the Borderlands

I've been a bit distracted from playing my Five Leagues from the Borderlands campaign, because I got into sorting out and painting figures. Some of the figures here were first painted in the the early 90s. Some others of them were bought then and have languished in the Unpainted Lead Pile until now. Thank goodness the desire to play Five Leagues from the Borderlands took hold, as it means I am really making progress on clearing up the unpainted figures of the past.

The Ruin Within

The bandits and brigands who seek an easier life than one of honest toil tilling the land to provide for their families can be found in Utavoll too. Not everyone who came here came with good intent or for an opportunity to improve their lives. Some were fleeing the judgements of the Thing, the parliament in their homeland, or the vengeance of those they had wronged. These people are The Ruin Within. Even in Utavoll one can gain bloodstained gold for the bounties on their heads or bribe one's way out of a fight with them. As long as they get gold for carousing and wenching, they don't really care, and they will happily milk you for gold another time, if you do not annoy them too much now.

I did not really need to paint up these guys as a faction. They are the dregs of all the other factions so I can happily mix in any suitable figures from every faction to represent them on the tabletop. However, I needed to push myself into painting a bunch of figures from the Unpainted Lead Pile, so here is the result of that. The figures are from Two Dragons Productions. As usual, the humans are all Viking Age humans and the force mixes Vikings, Normans and peasants. As the forces for this are fairly generic, I have simply divided the bandits into unarmoured, light armoured and armoured groups and will field the appropriate ones according to the armour and toughness of the hostile force. The numbers present here are based on the maximum number of hostiles I can encounter with a party of 6 heroes.

So, who are these poor souls, who never got a break and could have been someone if only their village leader had not been jealous of their talents and pushed them out? The Desperate Mob and Sneaky Thieves are peasants whose abilities were not appreciated in their homes so now they roam the countryside and take what they need. Some of these are people who lost everything to other raiders, while others are just malcontents. They have no armour and carry an assortment of improvised weapons.

Unarmoured melee troops (Two Dragons peasants)

Next up in the pecking order are more organised group of Slave Raiders, Outlaws and Blood-stained Renegades. They have proper weapons and light armour or shields. They may have been peasants at one point, but now they are moderately experienced practicants of the idea that wealth is for circulation and redistribution, especially when it is circulated in taverns by them and redistributed to them.

Light armoured melee troops (Two Dragons Vikings, Normans and townspeople)

At the top of the tree are the Grim-faced Rebels, Deserters and Well-armed Brigands. They have good weapons, armour and shields, and have prospered at the expense of those that spurned them in the past. Some are leaders of communities who went too far. Others were members of local and invading armies, who tired of being told what to do by the nobility. All are focused on enriching themselves further.

Armoured melee troops (Two Dragons, Vikings, Normans and Rus)

Finally, there are several groups who don't really belong in the other categories. The Hired Murderers are assassins and killers, who are in it for the blood and gore. Their business is killing, and they are killing it. The Murder Cultists and the Order of the Snake are similar to the Hired Murderers, but they are in it to appease their nameless god with the blood of those that reject it. The last group to mention is the Penitent Zealots. They are going to save the world and everyone in it, no matter how many they have to kill to achieve their goal. They don't really have a uniform but can be recognised by the tin stars they were as pendants around their necks (conveniently not visible in 15mm!).

I may swap out the various assassin and cultist types with more berserks and ulfhednar figures, once I get them tarted up, because that will mark these guys out more and the mythology that has built up around berserks since they became a part of popular culture kind of fits these groups.

Penitent Zealots (Two Dragons Vikings and townspeople)

A selection of missile troops are available to provide ranged fire support. Slings and bows are most common, but the assassins and cultists have a thing for throwing knives.

Unarmoured slingers and archers (Two Dragons Vikings and Normans)

Light armoured archers (Two Dragons Vikings)

Armoured archers (Two Dragons Vikings and Normans)

'Knife' throwers (Two Dragons Vikings)

The brigands also need their leaders, so I have a small selection of command figures to throw into that role when the dice call for them.

Leader figures (Two Dragons Vikings)

4 Klarmont - The light at the end of the tunnel

 As Broneslav starts to open the door ahead of him, he hears footsteps rushing past. He pauses and lets the person get a short headstart before he carefully puts his head round the door to see what is going on. He sees the man with the wooden mask opening a secret door in the wall. Broneslav decides that he has a good chance here, so he quickly removes his robe so that he can move more freely, before stepping through to follow the man.

He hears loud voices raised beyond the secret door. As he reaches the door, there is a familiar strangled cry. Someone has just been stabbed! He draws his sword and pushes the door open hard. The scene that confronts him is a familiar one by now. A middle-aged man holds a sword to the chest of a younger man. The man with the wooden mask lies dead on the floor, his lifeblood pooling around him. Some of that blood is still on the middle-aged man's sword.

"Stop him!" the younger man yells, "He has killed our father!"

At this point, Broneslav realises that the man on the floor is Anton Radu, head of the Radu clan. That means that the other two must be Zweis (younger) and Cartha (middle-aged) if he remembered correctly.

"Put the sword down, Cartha," he ordered, "the jig is up."

"Pah," scoffed Cartha, "I'm done with your meddling in this. Your time is up, not mine!"

He swings his sword away from his younger brother and launches a frenzied assault on Broneslav. Cartha's sword cuts Broneslav (2 DAM) before he can react. Broneslav returns the favour with a long cut down Cartha's arm (2 DAM). Zweis takes this opportunity to try to stab his brother in the back, but is knocked back. With a swift stab, Cartha slices a gash in Broneslav's leg (2 DAM). This is enough to put Broneslav off, and his next blow goes wide. Cartha uses this opportunity to slice another chunk of flesh from Broneslav (2 DAM), while fending off yet another attempt at fratricide by his brother. The three then settle into a series of attacks and ripostes that are easily blocked, before Broneslav finally gets through Cartha's defences again (2 DAM). This is enough to slow Cartha down, but not enough to put him down. Meanwhile, he is easily able to fend off Zweis' attacks until Zweis lands a lucky blow (1 DAM) that is quickly followed by another lucky blow (1 DAM). Cartha falls lifeless over the body of the father he had murdered.

Breathing hard, Broneslav eyes Zweis, wondering if this brother will now turn on him.

"So," says Zweis, "thank you for helping me out of a sticky situation. Family is absolutely the worst, dontcha know. I'm guessing you know about the Veiled Society, what with being here and all. What I'm wondering is if you could see your way to joing us. With my brother and my father out of the way, there are several opportunities available within our command structure. As a scion of a merchant family (Yes, I recognise you, Torenescu) I'm sure you can see the advantages for both of us. What say you?"

"Yeah," replies Broneslav, "That's not going to happen. I see you for who you are."

Zweis looks disappointed.

"Well, how about I give you this box of gems, and you walk away from here?"

"Nope, I have all the wealth I need. Now, put down your sword and come peaceably to the guard with me."

Zweis looks defeated. He hunches his shoulders slightly and begins to crouch. Then he launches an attack. Broneslav is not caught out at all. He hammers Zweis on the side of the head (2 DAM) and steps easily to the side, to avoid Zweis' attack. A follow-up blow with the pommel of his sword smashes the young man to the ground unconscious. Broneslav checks he is ok and then ties him up. No point in taking chances.

When he searches the room, he finds papers detailing the Veiled Society's doings and their contacts. Looking at some of the names, he realises that this will rock the upper echelons of Specularum society. He also knows it could have been much worse if the Veiled Society had spread its tentacles further afield.

Further searching of the room nets the box of gems that Zweis had promised as a bribe. Cartha's and Zweis's swords are both good quality, so he takes those and a fancy ring that Cartha is wearing. Furthermore, there is a pack containing a mail shirt, sword and bow). These do not look like the sort of gear that the Radu family leaders would wear, so it suggests that someone else has been taken by them.

Deciding that he needs to see if this person is still alive, Broneslav makes sure that Zweis is properly secured and sets off to search the rest of the tunnels.

Saturday 6 May 2023

4 Klarmont - All robed up and nowhere to go

 After stuffing the unconscious men into the cupboard, Broneslav took robes and a hood and put them on. It seemed reasonable to him that anyone coming through here was probably part of the group he was after, and that he would gain the element of surprise by wearing the clothes they expected people to see others in.

The question, though, was where next? The door he had just come through would not open again, and there seemed little reason for anyone to return to the mead hall wearing the robes, so that meant there must be another way out of here. He searched carefully, noting dirt and scuff marks on the floor leading under the wall opposite the way he had come in. It did not take too long to find a way to open a secret door in that wall. Beyond was a tunnel under the houses beside the mead hall.

"These people must really like tunneling!" he mused as he reached a junction. From ahead, he could hear faint voices. The passage to his left was apparently silent. Now, why would there be another tunnel here? And should he find out or should he see what was up with the voices ahead? Broneslav mentally flipped a coin, and followed the passage ahead of him towards the voices.

As he reached the end of the passage, it opened into a larger chamber with a couple of dozen people dressed in red robes and black hoods in it. Broneslav stayed back in the darkness of the passage and watched. A man in a red and gold robe was standing on a dais at one end of the room. Unlike the others, he was wearing a wooden mask instead of a hood. His voice echoed hollowly out of the mask.

"Now is our time! We shall take back the city from the traitors while they are still reeling from our campaign against them. The people will side with us because they know we are right! Our enemies will be crushed and the Duke will be forced to kneel before us. Those who oppose us are weak. Those who betray us are traitors. Like that one!"

The man in the mask pointed to one of the assembled people.

"That one must die for disobeying our orders!"

With that, the crowd of robed people fell on the unfortunate individual. Distracted by their brutal death, Broneslav did not see the man in the wooden mask leave the room. There must have been a secret door behind him, but Broneslav was not about to try to fight his way through twenty people to find out. Well, nineteen now, but the point still stood.

He backed off down the tunnel and decided to try the other branch. It ended at a door with a tunnel off to his left. A sweet, sandalwood smell drifted down the corridor to his left and he felt a strong desire to head down there. He tried the door. It opened easily and he went through.