[Actual Play] Swords Against Chaos 03 (B/X Mystara); Fighting Men

On the third day of the Felmont they girded their blades and stowed their packs, already used to the grim routine. Only two of the original six remained, Mad Hummingbird and crafty Shing. The Maiden Earendil said her prayers and stringed her cousins bow. Once more they set out.

Others had joined. Sellswords and wanderers flocked to the news of dire calamity. With empty bellies and empty pouches and backpacks filled with Steel they sought to forge a reputation in blood. Egil Soft-pate of the Jarldoms, his head cracked in childhood brawl, his hands mighty enough to crush a lamb’s skull. With him Rallo the Bastard, lazy-eyed and vicious, a human wolf from the fetid slums of Specularum. Also with him Ioric the Hunter, hawk-faced and hawk-souled with dazzling smile, a Thyatian sellsword and occasional bandit. They met in the common room, Hummingbird demanding they speak of their deeds, Rallo bragging that he had earned his name by stealing a king’s treasury. If they believed his boast they did not say.

At crack of dawn into Stallanford marched Vladislav the Half-man. Hill-tribe born and hated by all, his wagon bursting with looted apparel from a thousand unremembered battlefields. Before our heroes he revealed his plundered hoard; Swords raped from rotting hands, knightly plate stripped from men who died of disease, a dozen knives covered in rust and the blood of their owners. They trusted him naught and he trusted them less, and uneasily they haggled and bartered, brandy and tankards for daggers and caltrops and ten foot poles. Of the knight’s plate, they deemed his asking price too high, for they sought above all to die rich.

The sun rose above the Wulfholde hills, bathing the thistles and hardy shrubs in blood red light. They found fresh Orc trails and decided to track their origin, finding it curving back onto the trail they had blazed to the ruins. Disdaining to follow the trail, they blundered into a clumsy ambush, and the Immortals saved them where their cunning failed.

In a ragged line they charged, four orcs, porcine eyes wide with fear at these formidable slayers, their one-eyed hetman urging them on with threats and curses. From across the hills on their rear a vicious Ferret charged. And our heroes reacted sluggishly with missiles fired halfheartedly, and only scratches inflicted before the ranks were closed. Rallo hid in the underbrush as Orcs ran past him heedless.

Earendil’s arrows, unerring and hungry to avenge a cousin’s blood, struck true and claimed the first of the Orc. Outmaneuvered, Egil took a fell blow, an inch from death, and Ioric a minor one, for Ioric was well-armoured and swift, and carried a mighty shield. Then upon them was Rallo, and took the second of the Orcs in the back, striking savagely and with little mercy. The ferret snapped at Hummingbird, inches away from death, and a well placed arrow laid him to rest.

The hetman waded in too, slings and throwing axe going past him. A single blow of Ioric’s struck off his head, and the two other Orcs broke and fled. An arrow slew the first one, and the second lost in the hilly terrain. Panting and stumbling, nursing dire injuries, our heroes bound their wounds and stripped the Orcs of their wealth and debated long before going back to Stallanford to lick their wounds and rest.

They slept in the Inn and Shing inquired after a strange dwarven bracelet they had found. Discerning it was a birthday gift, they sold it not to the Half-man, but kept it for some other purpose, as of yet undecided. The dwarven dockworker asked them who they would gift it too. “It was found on an Orc,” saith Shing, for Shing was fond of crushing dreams. “Does the Orc yet live?” asked the Dwarf. And Shing said no. “You are a good man,” said the Dwarf, and he left. And the Half-man they paid in honest Coin for his help, and the Half-man said that perhaps he could forgive Thyatians for killing his father in the uprising.

It was the 4th of the Felmont and they marched upon the Wulfholde Hills, following different roads. At the entrance they were greeted by the impaled heads of Balan and Fenrig. They took these down and the spears would come in handy, but of burial there were things discussed, but never followed through. Into the silent darkness they strode, the guard post abandoned, with swords and torches lit, Ioric in front, the Mad Monk Hummingbird behind.

As they came upon the empty guardpost, it was the Mad Hummingbird who shouted “I challenge the Chieftain of this place to a fight,” and other such taunts, and his words were carried long and far in the darkness and the silence. They went into now empty rooms and helped themselves to riches left in haste by the ambushing Orcs, now food for the wolves and vultures. A fortified chest they smote open, shattering the elixer within, but of gold and jewels they found much and carried it along. Mad Hummingbird dug hands deep into Orc Chamber Pots in search of unknown riches and found only cold softness and filth. With watering eyes and hands covered in nameless horror he marched into the passage unheeding, kicking open doors and screaming for war.

They found also in the hetman’s quarter’s a stuffed Dwarf’s head, and deeming it important, took it in their packs, and a great bullwhip, which Shing took for himself.

Long they searched, and found the hidden door, and into the depths they went. Beyond the secret door they marched into the passage, silently, looking into the corridor with reflection in sword. A marching orc hetman, sword red with blood, stumbled into the corridor, and was killed before he could utter a word. They pressed on, miraculously avoiding a perilous trap door, and found bound the Fleeing Orc, struck down for his cowardice. Hearing faint voices from a passage in the north, they made their cunning scheme.

In the chamber they waited, swords drawn, ready to spring fell ambush. With distorted voice Earendil cried out in Orcish for help and stood with arrows readied at the end of corridor, Egil with spears by her side. A line of caltrops was laid and weapons readied. Three of the Orc hetmen, mighty warriors all, marched into the corridor to investigate, weapons drawn and arrows and spears assailed them. The first stepped unto the caltrops, the rest could not bypass him easily, for the trap was near, and the first died by spear to the chest. Slowly the second forged forward, through a maze of pointed, crippling death and was ended as Egil smote him with the Spear that had held Fenrig’s head. The third was wounded with arrow and fled into the room, only to find there 4 of the heroes, who fell on him like wolves.

Our heroes sought to repeat the ambush, but the Orcs were not so easily fooled. A chieftain and his Sorcerer, mind awash with half-understood enchantments, they knew they had been had. The wizard called forth a shield of sorcery and together they charged into the corridor, seeking to forge an escape. The sorcerer, his face cadaverous, his fingers clawed, unleashed more evil magic and a dart of black sorcery flew forth and slew Earendil outright. The chieftain charged forward, his sword agleam with fell witchery, seeking to lay waste Egil and howled with pain as the caltrop pierced his foot, his charge broken.

Out of the room sallied now our heroes, and clever Shing unleashed the Sleep spell, and thus sleep came upon the Orcs, and never would they awaken from it. They cut their throats and stripped from them their goods and enchanted weaponry, and marched into the throne room, emboldened with grim purpose. They halted at vile tapestries smeared with obscene Orc symbols, and faint Orc weeping and piteous moans behind it.

What did they find? Let us find out.

The Book of the Dead
Ilyanka Pjottrsdöttr (Clr 1) – Beheaded by Giant Chameleon
Liliath the Elf-maiden (Elf 1) – Skull-split by the horrid Bugbear
Cold-Souled Fenrig (Thf 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
Balan the Lame (Dwr 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
Earendil (Elf 1) – Struck down by vile Orc Sorcery

The Tally
1 Orc Chieftain
1 Orc Sorcerer
20 Orcs
5 Orc Hetmen
2 Giant Ferrets
1 Hunting Spider
1 Giant Chameleon
1 Bugbear


6 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Swords Against Chaos 03 (B/X Mystara); Fighting Men

  1. An ambush to take out the first wave, then actually using the sleep spell on the second wave before the group had taken a pounding. Now if they start buying better armour with their loot, they might be in business. An enjoyable read.


    1. It’s a pleasure to see new players develop and grow, I am blessed. My only concession to halt the frequent deaths, and it is a minor one, is to increase starting hit points to maximum for new characters. I use a reroll hit points every level, keep if better mechanic so it will average out. Next time they are going to notice the effect of a lack of a cleric methinks.


  2. I’m glad I put in a request for more actual play reports back in early March. The WuFlu torpedoed any chance of any D&D in my real life, but at least I can vicariously enjoy these posts.


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