Saturday 30 September 2023

Turn 26: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Sleep of Reason Part 2 (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 The Lemmings had reached the Synod hideout. As they had come to expect, eldritch fog rolled in as they neared it, cutting down visibility and chilling them to the bone. As if that was not clue enough, the mutated fungi that had replaced the tree growth here was a bit of a hint too. The cultists were spread out on guard while their leaders and a select group of members were performing a ritual in the stone circle near the houses they lived in.

The Thrappled Lemmings (bottom right) fail their first and only sneak roll of the game

Wido crept forward through the undergrowth. It was heavy going and he made too much noise pushing through. A sentry heard him and yelled a warning to the other cultists. Suddenly a horde of maddened cultists were charging towards the Lemmings. Worse yet, these looked better armed and armoured than previous cultists they had dealt with.

Cultists start to become possessed by maddened revenants

In the first rush, Wido, Onesipe and Fulrad let fly all of their bolts and arrows. They wounded and killed several cultists but were now out of ammunition. Drogo, Lysanthir and Sir Thiebault moved to engage the cultists in melee and the others followed them up. Suddenly, the wounded cultists seemed to burst and undead monstrosities emerged from the tatters of their skin. Lysanthir cast a barrier spell to slow one of the undead down, but they all advanced implacably as the remaining cultists also charged.

Lysanthir falls, mauled by a maddened revenant

The Lemmings fought desperately against the onslaught. Drogo and Sir Thiebault were both wounded. Onesipe rushed between them bandaging their wounds while the others slowly whittled down the remaining cultists, trying to kill them before they could become possessed. The only saving grace was that Drogo and Sir Thiebault managed to kill the cultists' leaders in hard fought melees. Suddenly Lysanthir cried out. The revenant had felled him.

The others redoubled their efforts only to see the revenants' wounds healing before their very eyes. they fought on and focused on taking out the revenants one at a time. The Lemmings knew how to fight as a unit, despite their rugged individualism, and worked together to cut down each revenant in turn.

Sir Thiebault copies Lysanthir and crashes to the ground, cut down by a revenant

Suddenly Sir Thiebault cried out in pain as a revenant attacked him from behind and cut him down. The remaining Lemmings focused their efforts on this last revenant. It took time because the creature healed almost as fast as they could wound it, and it was strong and capable in the fight. At least it lay dead again and they had time to breathe, loot the dead and check their own fallen. As it expired, the eerie fog rolled back and the chill departed.

Lysanthir struggled groggily to his feet as Wido and Fulrad checked his purse to see if he was still alive. he had just been knocked out. Sir Thiebault was in a much worse state and bleeding from several bad wounds. He would take a while to recover.

With their wounded sorted out, the Lemmings started the really serious business of looting the place. They found various art objects that would sell well and a fine longbow that Drogo took. The cultists also had some battered weapons that they Lemmings reckoned they could sell and 2 Marks in gold.

The cultists' houses did not look like they were too infested with anything, so the Lemmings settled in there. They would return to Haitabu in the morning and see what they could earn from their travails.

"Heh," muttered Sir Thiebault weakly, "At least we made sure the beer supplies won't stop, eh?"

The others agreed. This raid could have cost them their leaders, but it had destroyed the Synod of Reason as a force in Utavoll.

Well, that could have gone worse. I got lucky. The bad guys did not get any reinforcements and Lysanthir just took a bump to the head so he will not miss any campaign turns. Sir Thiebault was moderately wounded and will miss 6 turns. Better yet, this has reduced the cultists to 0 Threat, meaning that they are no longer an organised threat. Isolated pockets of them can still be found, but that is all.

I think this is the first time I have faced an enemy force where all the enemies had combat bonuses and higher toughness than my guys. I used up all my remaining story points rerolling armour checks and spent time bandaging wounds to keep my main warriors in the fight. Without the bandages and story points, this could have gone a lot worse. The rolls to see if wounded cultists transformed into maddened revenants were nervewracking. With Toughness 5 and regeneration, the revenants are relatively hard to put down, especially when you keep rolling 1s for the Armour or Toughness rolls!

With the cultist threat no more, this was a satisfying denouement to the campaign against them. It felt dangerous enough that the Lemmings could have failed which makes the victory sweeter. After the lack of respect shown to them by the brigands, the Lemmings are very tempted to go after the bandit threat next, but they need a beer first.

Turn 26: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Sleep of Reason Part 1 (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 Lysanthir was grumpy. Someone had pickpocketed him and stolen 2 Marks. It wasn't the money that annoyed him; He had recouped that by selling spare weapons at the market. No, it was the lack of respect. I mean, who would pickpocket the area's most famous adventuring band? Some people needed a lesson in respect. If he ever got his hands on them, they would learn...

Meanwhile, Wido and Fulrad were training again, and Wido was definitely improving. He was also admiring his new bow that he they had recovered from the cultists. Turns out he was not a bad shot either.

Lysanthir reckoned they were ready and that it was time. Time to take the fight all the way to the Whispers from Beyond. He and the rest of the Lemmings gathered their gear and headed out. They had known where the Cultists had their hideout for some time, but it had not seemed important until the beer supplies were threatened. Well, he and his group would soon fix that.

The Lemmings groaned in unison. How many times before had they heard "Your money or your life?" from some random group of rag-tag brigands? Well, here were more of the sods needing a lesson in respect. And that barricade was not going to help them!

Brigands! Fahsands of 'em!

The Lemmings formed up in line and prepared to advance. As they did so, a horde of brigands raced out of the wooded hill to their right. For once, instead of bickering, the Lemmings formed up and manoeuvred as one! Sir Thiebault, Drogo and Lysanthir moved to engage them while Onesipe, Fulrad and Wido let fly with their bows. Wido's shot was true and the enemy archer behind the barricade died instantly. Onesipe's shot wounded the brigand leading the charge and Sir Thiebault finished him off.

As the brigand ambushers closed with the Lemmings, they soon found they were outmatched. Drogo had a close call but a low-hanging branch deflected a blow that could have felled him. Soon, the whole ambush party was dead.

The brigand leader yelled "Leg it!" and the rest of the brigands ran for their lives. With that, the Lemmings got down to the serious business of looting the corpses. Despite being impoverished, one of the brigands had clearly got lucky as he was wearing a pair of magical boots, and there was a war spear and a warhammer that had clearly seen better days but could still be sold for beer tokens.

"Reckon they learned some respect now," announced Wido as the Lemmings continued their journey.

In a surprise turn of events, I rolled six ones for initiative for the Lemmings on the first turn which meant all of them got to act before the brigands. Wido then rolled a 6 to hit the brigand archer and killed him instantly. This put paid to what I thought ought to be the brigand plan: an ambush party that closes while the archer snipes from behind the barricade. As it was, the archer never got off a shot and the entire ambush party was killed in the course of two turns. All of the remaining brigands then failed their morale checks and ran.

I did use a story point to keep Drogo on his feet. One brigand rolled rather too many sixes to hit him and he would have been out of it for the main part of this turn. Fortunately, the reroll bounced off his armour.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Turn 25: The Thrappled Lemmings Fight For Their Right To Party (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 "Report, Sibling Ferdamadur!" barked the person in the dark blue robes.

"I done enter the village of Elsfjord at great risk to my soul, Elder Sibling. There I seen debauchery and unreason beyond measure. There was an owner of a den of iniquity letting these Thrappled Lemmings drink fer free. He plied 'em wi' beer and encouraged others to do t'same."

"Diction, Sibling Ferdamadur. Diction. It is not reasonable to be sloppy of speech!"

"Soz 'ard, umm, I mean, sorry, Elder Sibling. So, they drank beyond the point of unreason to the visit of the heron of forgetfulness. They were loud and not composed in the slightest. Never once did I see anyone suggest moderation. Worse yet, the visitors to this den of sin were gambling their hard-earned gold away. I have never seen such careless behaviour before. These Thrappled Lemmings and these monkish brewers are a threat to all that we hold dear, Elder Sibling. Worse yet, even after all that, they were up and about the next morning as if nothing had happened. I saw two of their number, the Skinny Spearman and the Smelly Archer training while their leader, the Fey, traversed the market and sold the goods they looted from our Siblings' corpses."

As the twitchy cultist spoke and expanded upon the description, the Elder Sibling became twitchier and their anger could be discerned in the rigid stance their body adopted. Had one been able to see beneath the mask made from a fallen Enemy of Reason's skull, one might have seen spittle collect in the corners of their mouth. One might have seen their face redden and twist into a mask of pure anger.

"This aggression against reason shall not abide! Rally the Whisperers. We attack at dawn. We shall wipe this blot of unreason from the map."

The Elder Sibling retired to their tent while Sibling Ferdamadur informed the other Whisperers of the plan. 

As the morning light turned blue and the first rays of sunlight crept above the horizon, the Whisperers gathered on the edge of Elsfjord. Today they would strike a blow for their fallen Siblings and for Reason by slaying the Thrappled Lemmings and destroying the brewers of unreason.

"Hah! See how the villagers flee their barricades! They fear us, as is only logical." The Elder Sibling was triumphant. Today they would be one step closer to summoning the Host of Whispers and bringing about the End of Unreason.

"Elder Sibling, those ones are not fleeing. They hurry towards us instead."

The Lemmings get the initiative and storm towards the barricade in the centre

"Do not worry, Sibling Ferdamadur. Those are the Thrappled Lemmings. We outnumber them and it is only logical that our numbers shall tell against them. See how they rush to their DOOM!"

"Onwards, my Siblings," yelled Elder Sibling, "Take the barricades and cut the Lemmings down!"

The Elder Sibling led the way to the central barricade followed by two of the Sibling Whisperers. Their archer and two other Siblings were on their right flank. Three Siblings lurked in the woods on their left flank. Their job was to outflank the Lemmings and cut them down from behind.

The Elder Sibling did not consider that the villagers might have thought it more dangerous to stand beside the Thrappled Lemmings than against the Whisperers.

Drogo and Wido get first blood

"Elder Sibling, avenge me!" cried Sibling Farrah as Drogo cut her down.

"And me," cried Sibling Atli with Wido's spear through his middle.

As the Siblings advanced from their left flank, they faced the Fey and the Mad Axeman, while the Smelly Archer had sneaked around the side and was able to wound one of them.

"Elder Sibling, the ambush has failed!"

"Fight harder, my Siblings!" yelled the Elder Sibling just before the Knight leapt the barricade and sliced deeply through the Elder Sibling's side before cutting their head off with the return blow. The Sibling beside the Elder sought revenge against the Knight, but the match was uneven and he slumped to the ground dead before he had even leveled his sword.

As the Siblings' right flank advanced to the grassy knoll in the centre of the village, the Crossbowman planted a bolt in Sibling Archer, wounding him. The Skinny Spearman charged and slew Sibling Smith in a very uneven contest.

The fight centres on the barricade in the centre, the grassy knoll to the left and the alley to the right

Meanwhile, Sibling Feltardson had engaged the Smelly Archer and was winning the fight, only for the Mad Axeman to cut down Sibling Ryggjasdottir, who had been guarding his back. The Fey leapt over her corpse and cut Sibling Feltardson down from behind.

Sibling Feltardson is treacherously cut down from behind

Sibling Ferdamadur looked at Sibling Archer. They were the last two standing.

"I only joined for the social events," muttered Sibling Ferdamadur sourly, "I thought it would be a good chance to meet chicks while dancing naked in the moonlight."

"Yeah, me too," replied Sibling Archer, "Bugger this for a game of cultists. Let's leg it."

The two Siblings took to their heels and removed their robes as soon as they were out of sight.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Turn 24: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Temperance League (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 "Whaddya mean they've banned gambling," erupted Wido as he hastily put away his loaded dice.

"Just what I said," grunted Fulrad, "Signs up all over the place that morals are becoming lax, blah blah blah. You know. Usual moral panic stuff. I notice they ain't banning beer though. Wonder why that could be."

Fulrad ostentatiously quaffed his Elsfjord Goblin's Head Pale Ale and ordered another of the local brews to chase it down with. He had just finished training with Lysanthir and had worked up quite a thirst.

Wido grumbled, "I'm gonna see Lysanthir. He'll know what to do about this."

Lysanthir was relaxing after training with a half of Elsfjord Brown Ale, a notably strong brew. He listened with concern to Wido's tale and reassured the wily rogue that he would check out what was going on. If there was anything that could be done about it, Lysanthir would find out and the Lemmings would make it happen or destroy the monastery in the process.

Taking the party's purse, Lysanthir headed for the market to sell some of the gear they had recovered in the last raid on the Synod. The fancy mead horn sold quickly, as he had expected. The talk with the merchant turned to the new ban on gambling, and Lysanthir walked away from her absorbed in the new knowledge he had gained. A further tour of the market place and a discussion with a merchant selling a particularly fine shield that he bought for Sir Thiebault confirmed his thoughts.

"Lads, there's something dodgy going on here and I think the Synod is up to its neck in the gambling ban. Who know's what comes next. First gambling, then beer, I do not doubt. Now, I took a tour around the market and all things point to one place on the outskirts of Elsfjord Kloster. I bet that is where they are holed up. We need to go scout the area and roust them out if they are still there."

The Lemmings grabbed their gear at the double. The sooner they had chased off the bad guys, the sooner they could be back in the monastery supping a pint or three of Elsfjord Aged Wyrding Beer.

As they approached the area that Lysanthir had identified, eldritch fog rolled in to chill their bones. This confirmed their suspicions that the Synod was behind things. There were no cultists in sight though.

No cults in sight! The pigs mark the objectives that the Lemmings have to reach by the end of turn 6

"Spread out, Lads. We need to scout through to those buildings at the back. And be careful, those cultists are tricksy beggars," ordered Sir Thiebault.

Wido, Fulrad and Onesipe took the left flank and advanced up the hill. The others made a beeline for the pigs they could see in the centre of the village. In Utavoll, men are real men, and pigs are real money.

So that is where they were hiding!

As they advanced, cultist slingers emerged from the woods and started pelting the Lemmings with stones, while cultists emerged from two of the houses, accompanied by a grim knight.

The battle starts showing the shape it will take

Wido charged towards the slingers while Onesipe and Fulrad moved into position to shoot at them. Lysanthir raced forward and very quickly had the first pig in a sack. Drogo and Sir Thiebault engaged the first group of cultists. Two cultists fell in the first rush and Wido skewered one of the slingers. The deaths of their comrades dismayed several of the cultists, who ran. Pretty soon, only the grim knight remained. Sir Thiebault raced to the top of the hill.

"Ha! Call yourself a knight, you lily-livered son of a goat's excreta!" He taunted.

The knight came on and came to blows with him just as Lysanthir got the second goat into a sack. Despite having the advantage of height, Sir Thiebault was very quickly on a back foot. The knight's blows hammered home but bounced off Sir Thiebault's armour and new shield. Suddenly, Sir Thiebault saw an opening and counterattacked. A broad sweep of his sword took the knight below the chin guard and his head broke free of his body. Breathing heavily, Sir Thiebault looked at the dead knight. He did not recognise the shield device, but he was sure that this knight must be local, and must have seen an advantage in allying with the Synod. Well, the Lemmings had put paid to that plot now!

All your pigs are belong to us

Returning to the monastery, Sir Thiebault learned that the knight he had slain was none other than the Dread Ulric von Laksenfoss and that there was a reward for his capture or death. This pleased all the Lemmings greatly. They had also acquired the knight's shield and sword which were both of superior quality, so it was a successful outing, all in all.

Later that night as they were deep into their cups, a trader came into the tavern and announced that the plague had taken hold in Fikaby. Clearly the Lemmings would have to stay away from Fikaby for a while, but their plans lay elsewhere anyway.

I can't believe that the Lemmings came through that without injuries! Were it not for low armour rolls, Sir Thiebault would certainly have been badly hurt if not taken out completely. And now the Synod is reduced to Threat 2. The Lemmings' campaign against the cultists is really showing results now.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Turn 23: The Thrappled Lemmings and the Scheming Heretic* (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 *Being a polytheistic culture with animist leanings, where people have 'personal' relationships to the gods, Utavoll does not really have a concept of heresy per se. Instead, heretic is a term used of those who use their powers to disrupt the natural order of things

The Lemmings were happy. They had beer and they had cash, which meant they also had potential beer in the future. They had not got in any fights recently, not been thrown out of any taverns in a week, and the weather had been bad so the bad guys had been keeping their heads down too. Wido and Fulrad had used the break to train and were quickly improving as warriors.

Lysanthir took time to listen to rumours and learn more about the Synod of Reason.

"Lads," he announced as the bad weather started to lift once more, "There's something not right down by Elsfjord Kloster. I think the Synod of Reason is interfering with the monks* and their brewing. There have been raids on caravans out of Elsfjord lately. It seems that someone is raising the dead and using them to raise a ruckus. We need to do something about it."

*Monks in Utavoll are cultists, but they are the good type of cultist. They devote themselves to the gods and do good works. The ones at Elsfjord Kloster are mainly devoted to Ægir, Brewer To The Gods (may his name ever be blessed).

The others were getting a bit of cabin fever and agreed that a trip to the Kloster would do them good, especially if it involved trying the beer at its source. They packed their bags and set off.

The journey to the Kloster went smoothly and they quickly tracked the raiders to a deserted beer hall, where their leader, a thoroughly disreputable looking person appeared to be expecting the Lemmings. The other raiders were standing patiently on guard. As the Lemmings approached, they moved to attack and the chill fog that the Lemmings had come to associate with the Synod's presence rolled in once more to chill them to the bone and reduce visibility massively.

"So, Thrappled Lemmings, we meet at last."

The cultist's voice echoed eerily in the fog.

"I wondered if you would turn up, when you heard that I was disrupting your beer supply. Well, that will be your last mistake. Now it is time for you to die!"

The Thrappled Lemmings charge towards the beer hall. Two skeletons stand behind the trees to their left. The heretic and two skeletons stand in the yard of the hall. Not in shot is an unknown enemy marker,

Sir Thiebault shrugged as he and Drogo munched down Springwind Berries for a little extra speed in closing with the Heretic. He had heard it all before. Lysanthir chugged down a Potion of Fortune.

"Come on, Lemmings. Let's show this idiot what's what."

He led the charge towards the enemy before the Heretic and his minions could even respond.

The skeletons lurched towards the Lemmings and their leader moved to a position where he could begin using his nefarious spells to take over the Lemmings and to get them to fight among themselves. Lysanthir countered his abilities by casting Fog on him.

"That'll fix you," muttered Lysanthir, pleased that his arcane knowledge had finally come in useful.

Can't enspell what you can't see, eh?

With the Heretic fogbound and unable to use his Charm spells, Drogo stepped into the fog and began waving his axe round madly. There was a cry of pain and when the fog cleared, Drogo found himself standing over the corpse of the Heretic. Meanwhile, the others were slowly carving up the skeletons, who did not really want to be put down again. As they did this, three more skeletons emerged from the fog. Drogo and Sir Thiebault charged these new enemies only to be pushed back. Lysanthir stepped into the breech and cut both of them down in quick succession.

Once more the Thrappled Lemmings held the field (and the beer hall), and this time Drogo had not even been wounded! Looting the deserted beer hall, they found a selection of valuable spices and a gilded mead horn that they could sell.

They made their way quickly into Elsfjord itself, where they took rooms at the Frolicking Carthorse and encountered a destitute merchant called Karl. The poor man had been travelling to Elsfjord with cartloads of supplies for the monks but had been robbed by Orcs along the way. He was looking for investors to get him back on his feet and promised big profits if only they would take pity on him.

Lysanthir and Sir Thiebault discussed this and concluded that they could lend Karl 6 Marks. Karl promised to leave their loan and profits for them with his factor in Haitabu.

The locals were also in an uproar about strange goings on down the coast from Elsfjord. Clearly there was something to investigate here too.

I must admit that I was worried about facing a Unique Foe, and the thought of him charming one of my characters was quite scary. However, it all worked out fine and I discovered that not all of Lysanthir's spells are useless!

Saturday 16 September 2023

Turn 22: The Thrappled Lemmings and a Bunch of Cults (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

It was harvest time in Haitabu and almost everyone was out in the fields gathering in the turnips, but not the Thrappled Lemmings. They drank toasts to the local turnip collectors and supported the town by spending their money at The Prince and The Pauper, a small tavern from which they had not yet been banned. They were living high on the hog after their mapping exercise had netted them some solid gold.

Wido and Fulrad spent time training, when they were sober enough. Meanwhile, Lysanthir was thoughtful and drinking more slowly than the others.

"I think we should do something about these cultists," he muttered, "Unsavoury bunch if ever I saw something unsavoury."

The others thought about this.

"So, if we do something about them, what happens? We get gold? People buy us beer?"

"Yes," replied Lysanthir, "Something like that. And farmers will be left in peace to plant barley for more beer, so we win all ways. If we attack their camps, we could even net a solid haul from that too."

The others toasted Lysanthir's idea and went to pack their things. The Thrappled Lemmings were going to take the fight to the cultists.

"I've been doing some research, and it is clear there is someone disturbing the locals a short way out of town. I reckon it's these cultists, so we could scrag them and be back in time for last orders," declared Lysanthir. "They've been raiding the farms in the area lately, so they are likely to be celebrating and less aware than otherwise. That will be to our advantage and we can make the area secure for the barley farmers and beer brewers."

The Thrappled Lemmings marched out of town at first light the next day. Fulrad quickly found the tracks of the cultists and led the way to a local farm. The cultists were busily looting the place while chanting unspeakable gibberish. Unfortunately, the cultists had sentries out and spotted the Thrappled Lemmings coming, so they were waiting for them.

Sir Thiebault announced to the Lemmings, "Ok, they've seen us coming so it's plan B today. CHARGE!"

Battlefield manoeuvres. The red arrows show the directions taken by the Lemmings, the blue show the movements of the cultists

As Fulrad and Onesipe took up position on a hillock that gave them a good view of the battlefield, fog rolled in, chilling their bones. Sir Thiebault and the others charged towards their left, using the farm buildings as cover from the cultist they had seen with a crossbow. The cultists charged forwards, also using the farm buildings as cover.

The main battle took place to one side of the farm buildings

The cultists charged with little thought for tactics, relying on their unholy fog to give them all the cover they needed. Their lack of finesse was made up for by their unspeakable toughness granted them by their nameless gods. And as each cultist was wounded, their gods filled them with berserk fury, permitting them to redouble their efforts. Still, the Lemmings' preferred tactic of supported attacks soon told and cultist bodies started to little the battlefield. Before too long, Wido had killed the cultist leader too.

With no targets in sight, Onesipe and Fulrad moved to outflank the last of the cultists who had decided to make their stand in the farmyard. Drogo and Wido were attacking them over the fence of the yard. Drogo made a reckless assault over the fence and was driven back. Wido used his war spear to greater effect, killing one cultist and forcing the other back. This gave him space to leap over the fence and skewer the man in the blue robe. The Lemmings held the field once more and had a struck a blow that would reduce the threat the Synod of Reason posed to Utavoll.

As the Thrappled Lemmings searched the cultists and the farm for treasure (sadly very little was found), a dishevelled young woman crawled out from behind a woodpile. She was grateful for the Lemmings killing the cultists who had killed her parents and wanted to join them. She looked a likely prospect once she had been given a bit of training, but the Lemmings were a tight-knit group and were not looking for recruits just yet. Sir Thiebault gently urged her to take over running the farm and brewing beer instead. She could serve the Thrappled Lemmings best in this way, he told her.

As clouds roiled in, the Lemmings returned to the Prince and Pauper to plan their next move.

Thursday 14 September 2023

Turn 21: The Thrappled Lemmings complete their maps (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 Waking in their beds in the local inn suited the Thrappled Lemmings very much. It had been a close thing after the fight last night, but Ketil son of Ketil had been in the hamlet and spoke up for them. He explained that the farmer the Lemmings had flattened had started the whole thing. As a result, he had got what he deserved.

Still, with the fight hanging over them, the Lemmings kept their heads down and expenses to a minimum, spending only 1 Gold Mark on food and not drinking as heavily as usual. Wido and Fulrad took the time to train while the group prepared for the return to Haitabu.

The Lemmings were able to sell the dog collars they had found and a few other things, and put 9 Gold Marks in their pouches. They then quickly hit the road to avoid confrontations with the farmer's extended family.

The mapping tour

Once more, their journey was utterly uneventful. It was as if the bad guys and trouble were avoiding the Lemmings for a change. Back at Haitabu, they delivered the maps to the town council and collected their reward. Then they headed to the Dagger and Dwarf for a pint or three of ale. There they learned that a mysterious stranger had been seen in Elsfjord Kloster. The local barflies speculated about who this person might be and what they wanted.

If the Lemmings go to Elsfjord Kloster on or before Turn 23, they get to roll a traveller encounter.

Turn 20: The Thrappled Lemmings map the way to Fikaby (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 Camping the wilderness is hard on your equipment, especially if you are the sort that does not take care of it properly. Fulrad's armour had begun to rust due to lack of proper maintenance. Fortunately, the armour that Sir Thiebault had found fitted him, so he took that instead.

With no rations in their backpacks, the Lemmings were forced to live off the land. This lead to Sir Thiebault going on a hunting expedition. Unfortunately, all he found were signs of a place that they should explore at some point.

The area of Utavoll with the new unexplored locations

The journey to Fikaby was utterly uneventful, but they got the mapping done, and they were able to relax in the comfort of the local hostelry, which was very much to their taste. The tavern was abuzz with tales of many-headed creatures and strange goings on in the hills to the north-west. Apparently, miners heading out to the hills had been scared off by something strange.

The net result of this turn is to add two new unexplored locations to the map (2102 and 1405). I get the feeling that the game adds far more to the map than any group is ever likely to explore.

Turn 19: The Thrappled Lemmings Map the Wilderness (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 The rain had finally cleared up, and not before time. The Lemmings desperately needed to get more gold in their pockets and the gods forbid that they should have to actually work for it!

As they sat in the Dragon and Flagon, there was a disturbance outside. The town crier was out, announcing a contract. The town council needed people to map the woods to the north of Haitabu. They had plans on beginning logging there and transporting the logs to Fikaby to expand that settlement, but  they needed to know more about the area first. In return for exploring this unexplored area and mapping the route from there to Fikaby, the town council announced that it would pay 7 Gold Marks upon their return to Haitabu to those that did the job for them.

Lysanthir was first in the queue to accept the contract and came away with a bag of maps that needed filling in.

"Easy money, lads," he announced back at the Dragon and Flagon. The others agreed and drank a toast to this easy money.

Then they headed off to help the town guard by breaking a few heads at closing time. This paid off their bar tab. While they were doing that, Wido got his spear fixed, costing the party 1 Gold Mark.

The Lemmings then packed their bags and headed out for the woods north of Haitabu. They were not far out of town when suddenly they were waylaid by a pack of Dust Hounds. Out of the surrounding woods and low hills, the baying of dogs on the hunt was heard. Forming a defensive line, the Lemmings awaited their enemy. Onesipe shot and wounded one as it approached and then the hounds were on the party. Wido, in the front rank, took the brunt of the first charge and skewered four of the hounds in quick succession. Onesipe killed another before they second group closed on Drogo. He immediately fell under the beast's attack. Sir Thiebault charged in and slew the biggest of the beasts. The remaining two ran with their tails between their legs. The group quickly ran to Drogo, who groaned. The beast had just knocked his head hard on the ground and stunned him.

The group of hounds on the left reached Wido first and were almost singlehandedly slaughtered by him. The group on the right reached the party on the second turn. They knocked Drogo out before several were killed and the surviving two ran away.

"Maybe that will knock some sense into you!" declared Sir Thiebault with that famous wit of his. While he was making such hilarious witticisms, the rest of the party were searching the hounds. It turned out that two of the hounds had once been pampered pooches and their bejewelled collars would sell well back at the market.

"Right, Lemmings, we've a wilderness to map. Let's take this loot and get on with the job," declared Sir Thiebault. The rest of the party followed willingly. Those dogs stunk and they did not want to hang around them too long.

After the days of rain previously, this march felt like a stroll in the park. Soon the group had reached the location they needed to map in detail.

"Hush," hissed Fulrad as he ducked back behind a tree, "There's a whole camp full of cultists there!"

"How many?" Sir Thiebault demanded.

"I count eight of them. They look right weedy too. I reckon we can take them."

"Ok. I bet the town council knew they were here too. Sods! Right, listen up! This is the plan."

The Lemmings had heard this plan before. It largely involved sneaking as close as they could and then charging like loons at the enemy, while Onesipe and Fulrad sniped from the sidelines. It was a well-practised strategy for them.

"Cultists," muttered Wido, "Why did it have to be cultists?"

The others just glared at him.

How cool that the dice have offered me cultists as the enemy for this turn, so I get to use my new stone circle for their camp!

Paying careful attention to their plan, the Lemmings crept forward through the woods and the mushrooms mutated by the power of the stone circle ahead of them. As they approached the enemy, fog rolled to chill their bones and reduce visibility massively. The noise of the cultists' chanting echoed hollowly across the landscape.

A cultist camp near a Centre of Power

 As usual, Sir Thiebault failed to sneak as quietly as the others, and the group of chanting cultists in the stone circle spotted him.

"Part 2 of the plan, lads!" he yelled as the cultists shambled towards him.

Performing an arcane ritual

The Lemmings formed up and charged. Drogo was very quickly bleeding from a wound as his overenthusiastic slayage of two cultists left him vulnerable to the third. Sir Thiebault dealt with that cultist while the cultist lieutenant sprouted crossbow bolts that did not seem to slow him at all.

As fast as the cultists shambled towards the Lemmings, the Lemmings cut them down. With a cry of triumph Sir Thiebault removed a vital part of the cultist leader's anatomy and raced into the centre of the stone circle, where he had seen something shiny. He found a suit of fine mail armour, just as the other cultists approached.

Fulrad took out the eye and brain of one of the cultists with an arrow as Wido and Sir Thiebault slaughtered another two. Then Lysanthir raced in and slew the last of the cultists to claim credit for having defeated them all!

With the cultists dead, it was time to search their camp. Alas, these cultists were poor and the treasure amassed was just 4 Gold Marks, a Set of Alarm Traps and some scrolls that might give a clue as to the cultist's movements.

The Lemmings quickly mapped the area and settled in to camp before the next leg of their journey to Fikaby.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Turn 18: The Thrappled Lemmings Take Shelter (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 The unseasonable weather continued and the party decided to stay in town until Wido was fully healed. The local hostelries were very pleased at this opportunity to acquire some of the Lemming's wealth.

"Sir Thiebault, do you have the company's purse? We need to get more supplies in."

"No, Lysanthir, you had it last!"

"Whaddya mean? I did not! You had it in the Dragon and Flagon last night!"

Was Young Ketil the thief? He's a rowdy young man and not known for staying out of trouble!

The argument continued until they both realised that a light-fingered someone had helped themselves to 3 Marks of the party's wealth. Woe betide the thieving scumbag if they ever found them! Worse yet, their bar tab came to another 3 Marks. Good job they had the Ogre's loot to sell. Meanwhile, Wido needed treatment, so they took him to the local healer which cost them another Gold Mark and emptied their collective purse. At this rate, they were going to have to get real jobs! Wido also drank the last of the party's tonic. Between that, the healer and resting up, he was fighting fit again.

With no money for beer, Lysanthir decided to spend his time studying the arcane texts he had with him and learned a little for his pains.

The Ogre's loot netted the Lemmings 4 Marks, so they could afford a bit of beer again, but they were going to have to head out and make a concerted effort to come up with some more gold now. Good job Wido was fully healed. It looked like the bad weather would clear up soon, so they began packing their bags and planning their next move.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Turn 17: The Thrappled Lemmings and More Unseasonable Weather (Five Leagues from the Borderlands)

 With the Ogre dead, the Lemmings had a bit of time to scout the area. They found tracks of an indeterminate creature that might have been the one the woodsmen told them about. This looked like a chance for more loot and to make the place safer, so they would win on all counts if they could find the creature. With time on their hands, Sir Thiebault went foraging for herbs and returned with a dose of Ironshield Root. Lysanthir did his own exploring but returned with nothing to show for it. Wido drank some of the party's tonic and felt considerably better but still wondered why there were three Lysanthirs. The rest of the party tried to find where the mysterious creature might have its lair.. They followed the trail and were soon certain that the creature's lair must be upstream of their current location in the foothills towards the head of the river (Monster Lair added in 1205). With their packs bulging with loot and Wido badly wounded, the Lemmings decided to head back to Haitabu to sell their gear and leave Wido in relative safety to heal.

As the party packed up, the weather that had been glorious suddenly turned and their path became a quagmire of mud and treacherous potholes full of water. Fortunately, Sir Thiebault was able to find the way through the weather and the Lemmings were soon ensconced in The Dragon and Flagon in Haitabu, where the owner was "delighted" to see them. This turned to actual pleasure when she realised that the Lemmings had actual gold to buy their beer with. She became positively chatty and told them that a caravan had recently come with ale from Elsfjord Kloster. On their journey, the caravan had got a bit lost in the recent fogs that had plagued the land and had noticed something strange just west of Elsfjord. The merchants were not sure precisely what it was, but it worried them. Clearly this would be worth investigating when Wido was healed (Unexplored Location added in 1211).

The Wilderness of Utavoll (wilderness terrain for 15mm fantasy games)

 I'm slowly collecting terrain for my Five Leagues from the Borderlands games, and have been on a bit of a spurt working on that instead of playing games. I shall get back to playing at some point soon, but I wanted nicer terrain to play on. Here we see a selection of terrain I have been working on or have bought for wilderness games.

The tent is from the same Viking Settlement set as in the previous blog post about the town of Haitabu.

The camp site and the stone circle are from CP Models. I based the standing stones on mdf bases to make a full circle.

The house is a Vietnam house from Peter Pig that I have had for donkey's years. I finally got around to painting it, am still not happy with it, but at least it is coloured in. I am thinking of getting a few more of these to use as Lizardman huts when I add The Oldest Ones faction to my game.

The mushrooms, rock pools and crystals are all from the Warlock Tiles: Accessory - Mushrooms and Pools set, and were bought at my local comics shop. They are nominally 28mm but work fine for 15mm as far as I am concerned. They will come in handy for both dungeon and wilderness dressing.

I've also put in a bit of effort making EPS hills for my wilderness games. I think I have enough small and medium hills now. Perhaps it is time to make some larger ones. The slopes on the sides of them are not going to be useful to stand figures on, but there are ways round that, and it is better to have any hills than none at all.

The stone circle still pulses with eldritch energies, even thousands of years after it was built. No one knows who built these stone circles or why. Some scholars theorise that the Oldest Ones' earliest ancestors built them because they always occur in areas where the Lizardmen live, but the Lizardmen are not telling, if indeed they know

Unfortunate travellers became lost in the wilderness and camped near the stone circle. Perhaps they were in trouble and hoped for aid from the Oldest Ones living in the hut, but the area seems deserted and there is no sign of where the travellers went. Even their possessions remain undisturbed.

The wilderness near the stone circle seems deformed by its power. Mushrooms have grown to the size of small trees and glowing crystals have sprouted from nearby hills. There is power here for the mage who can tap it and use it without dying.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Welcome to Haitabu! (some town terrain for 15mm fantasy and medieval)

 Welcome to Haitabu. Haitabu is the central marketplace in Utavoll. It was once a small nomad encampment but its central location has made it a meeting place for all who travel across Utavoll. Merchants come here for the big markets and the chance to hear of lucrative opportunities across the land, and many have made Haitabu their base. Unfortunately, this has also made it popular with the Thrappled Lemmings too, but they are out of town, so let us take a look around while the chaos they bring is at a minimum.

I needed buildings for my games and bought the Usborne cut-out models Make this Viking Settlement set because it was cheap, readily available from the local museum, and would only require the effort of building the houses. I do like a set where I don't have to paint anything! The set is closer to HO/OO or 20mm than 15mm, but that is a compromise I am willing to make in favour of the price and the ease of getting it to the table.

The Viking settlement is a card-model set that I have reinforced with foamboard inside. The roofs are removable, as is evident in the pictures below, because some have been knocked and sit slightly out of place. All I did for them is to add a triangle of foamboard to keep each roof in the right shape. Because the roofs are removable, the interiors are playable spaces, even if they are not pretty and decorated at all. The buildings are all stuck to mdf bases and some texturing added. I hope that this makes them prettier and more durable, even if my terrain making efforts are never going to win an award.

The base for the town is the Dave Graffam Cobblestone Streets mat that I printed out and put into a cheap picture frame. I play Five Leagues from the Borderlands at 60% scale in 15mm, so this 70cm x 50cm picture frame offers a playing area equivalent to approximately 45" x 33", which makes it ideal for Rangers of Shadow Deep and Frostgrave too (and, no doubt, many other skirmish games).

The trees are from a local model railway shop and I really need to get more of them. The figures in the images below are a mix of Essex Miniatures, Alternative Armies and Two Dragons.

So, let us start our tour of the town.

Haitabu overview shot

Another overview shot

Young Ketil is throwing stones at a rabbit, while Gunnar is planting turnips in the back yard. Jarl Atli has sacrificed a pig on the platform over his door recently and stands there taking in the view, while one of his serfs, Marit and her child Moldi, watches over his sheep. Jarl Atli hopes that the pig will bring him favourable attention from the gods.

It is turnip planting season all over. Helgi the Leatherworker and Thorbjorn Hammerbreath are also planting turnips on their plots

Meanwhile, a thirsty traveller takes a drink from the town's freshwater spring. (This is a rock pool from the Warlock Tiles Mushrooms and Pools set. It's nominally 28mm but it works for me)

Lady Greta chases sheep and goats from her plot. Her serfs must soon plant turnips too, but she sent them on an errand to collect mushrooms earlier, so her turnip crop will be planted a day later than everyone else's

Lars the Apprentice and Guthorm the Boatbuilder are discussing the best ways to split logs. Lars has lots of ideas and thinks that Guthorm does not think big enough, but he is wrong as usual. Old Forsi, Guthorm's father has just got up and is off to see what the market has to offer. Meanwhile Young Forsi Guthormson is planting turnips just like so many others.

Svarti the Swineherd is tending the pigs in the woods near Haitabu. He knows that the winter sacrifices will be along soon and he is planning on making a lot of bacon out of them. It is traditional to sacrifice a pig at midwinter for luck and good fortune in the new year.

A merchant caravan passes through the streets of Haitabu watched by Jarl Atli and Lady Greta's husband Jarl Tovi. Jarl Atli dislikes Jarl Tovi because Tovi's house is bigger than Atli's. The merchant notices them watching and orders his slaves to stand straighter and put on a show. He hopes that Atli or Tovi will buy the slaves and the other goods he has brought to market. His assistants hope that they will buy the other goods first, because they are sick of carrying them. A goat and a sheep look on incuriously. They know from experience that merchants are not a good source of food for them.