[Actual Play] Swords Against Chaos 13 (B/X Mystara); Arts of War

It was the 17th of the Felmont, and our heroes celebrated their victory. Niffa and Ioric went out and shot hares and mountain goat, so that our heroes would have ample food for two days. Till the sun set they talked long and discussed their next plan, for though the Forces of Queen Ilyana had been dealt a first blow, they were a far cry from defeat.

They discussed myriad plans to sow dissension among the ranks, and decided that the Orcs were a weak link, and that the forces of Chaos had to be set against them. This was then their plot; They would fire an arrow with writing in Orkish  on strips of linen into the Fortress from the ravine overlooking it. The parchment was to read:

Djardak. Payment received. First attack done. Waiting for next signal.

And so they climbed the ravine, making good time, the Felmont sun in their eyes as they ascended via goat trails and steep slopes. As they emerged they were accosted by 8 Stirges, and, not knowing their true nature, thought them to be friendly. The stirges came upon them, and Ioric and Shing all but perished, their blood sapped by the monstrosities, as a Sleep spell failed to claim even half their number. In the nick of time, hastily drawn daggers and swords put them down, and the things lay slain on rock. Once again the Staff of Healing was employed to good effect, and their wounds vanished like snow before the dawn.

Niffa tied the linen of her sleeve onto her arrow and fired. The first arrow undershot the fortress, and landed in the dust.

Again they tore off strips and wrote, and fired the arrow. This one landed in the courtyard. They watched as two hobgolbins found the message, examined it, and brought it to the Orc barracks, where it dissapeared. Dissapointed, they retreated.

Not wasting a day, they went them down, inspected the ravine mouth for ambushes, found a good vantage point within sight of the walls, and launched magic missiles, targeting only the human archers stationed at the front walls, so as to keep up appearances that their goal was to attack certain factions only. One of the archers was killed, another wounded, and arrows fell around them as they retreated back into the underbrush. Nonplussed, the adventurers went to their shelter and nursed their wounds.

It was the 19th, and again they discussed their next course. Some said that it would be good to rest a day, and heal their wounds, others insisted that they continue the assault, and considered running the wall to plant another message, for their plan had failed to have the effect they craved, but was by no means foiled. They talked of intercepting their food, but there were many ingresses, and their coverage of the canyon was not great, and they knew not from whence potential merchants or hunting parties would come, and when, so this plan they abandoned.

To approach the fortress without use of a Sleep Spell, undetected, was doomed to failure, with the guard on the walls only augmented with hobgoblins after the last attack. It was Rallo who eventually decided to disguise himself as merchant, along with sly Edmund, to see if the Forces would purchase his hardy fare.

Taking a horse, loaded with remnant hare and goat, and the 8 stirges, now reeking from lying in the sun, they set out for the fortress, not armoured and armed, halting when questioned, they gained their egress.

As they bargained with surly hobgoblins with cold, hateful eyes, who looked unenthusiastically on the reeking Stirge corpses, Rallo attempted to plant on one of them another message, written in Orc.

To Djardak. Payment received. We will attack the fortress.
Fortune favoured him not for the Hobgoblin Lieutenant kept his distance, but did not see through the subterfuge either, so all was well until the Swordmaster arrived. They also spied the great Wolves of the fortress being saddled, for a purpose they knew not.

His name was Merkull. Over 6 foot, his eyes hard and blue like ice, his countenance unchanged, he brooked no fools and the struggle between Law and Chaos was all a great game to him. He bargained with them and asked if they could obtain more food. Rallo even offered his son to serve the forces of the keep and talked in a most unconvincing accent.

“Where are you from?,” inquired Merkull.

“Uh…I hail from Russia, far beyond the World’s Charts,” said Rallo, and Merkulls eyes narrowed as he inquired, “This must be a long journey. What brings you here?”

“It is. For two years I have travelled, the call to adventure spurs me on.”

Eyes narrowed further.

“And you would offer your son to me, to serve in 4 years time?”


“Perhaps this should be discussed in private.”

Edmund was kept in the Hobgoblin barracks, and treated with wary disdain but left unmolested. Rallo was beaten hard by armed guards, and informed that they trusted him naught, and that he would be questioned. He feigned innocence, but it availed him little. He was kept in the Gnollish Barracks, but before that he surreptitously dropped the parchment bearing the orcish message in the commander’s office.

Edmund, lying very close to truth, revealed that he hailed from Stallanford, and had met Rallo only recently and did not know of his origins, knowing only he was good with a blade. Merkull let him go on the vow that he would gather hunters and bring additional food, and payed him for what he had brought, sending a veteran swordsman along, to ensure his compliance.

It was the 19th of the Felmont, and victory and defeat lay perched on a razor’s edge. 

The Tally.
4 Gnolls
10 Human guardsmen
16 goblins
8 Stirges

The Book of the Living.
[C] Ioric the Reborn (Ftr 2, 9 hp)
[B] Niffa (Elf 1, 8 hp)
[D] Rallo the Bastard (Thf 3, 18 hp)
[E] Shing the Golden (MU 2, 6 hp)
[F] Hummingbird (Mys 3, 7 hp)
[G] Edmund Os Traytor (Clr 1, 6 hp)
[NPC] Sarah (Thf 2, 9 hp).

The Book of the Dead:
[A] Ilyanka Pjottrsdöttr (Clr 1) – Beheaded by Giant Chameleon
[B] Liliath the Elf-maiden (Elf 1) – Skull-split by the horrid Bugbear
[C] Cold-Souled Fenrig (Thf 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[D] Balan the Lame (Dwr 1) – Cut down by the Orc menace
[B] Earendil (Elf 1) – Struck down by vile Orc Sorcery
[G] Azalesh Slyly (Clr 1) – Shanked by common robbers

The Rolls of Honour:
[A] Egil Soft-pate (Ftr 1, 18 Str) – Long may he Reave!
[NPC] Erren (Thf 3, 10 hp) – She wanders the roads, looking for who knows what.


4 thoughts on “[Actual Play] Swords Against Chaos 13 (B/X Mystara); Arts of War

  1. What a blow that the fortress is not replete with stirge eating gourmets. I have come across the “sell them very cheap poisoned food” trick before, but not this one. Even Rallo may find it hard to talk his way out. I hope he is not tempted to swap sides.
    I think this series of posts may generate some sales for B11 and 12: it has been a fun ride.


    1. I am glad ya’ll are enjoying it! I consider actual play reports to be an important way of giving people insight into one’s gaming practices while also preventing bloggers from becoming armchair generals, preoccupied with empty theorizing. I still maintain that B11 is probably a sub-optimal starting dungeon but B12 is very good, and I am loving the emergent gameplay that comes with the scenario thus far. Next play report coming soon!


      1. I’m repeating myself, but whilst I agree concerning B12, I think that B11 is a decent module for novices, with helpful advice for new referees. You didn’t need that advice, but I think your players benefitted from the introduction to dungeoneering. And paired with B12, you get increasing sophistication in the scenarios. Your group is now performing with sufficient invention and sound enough tactics to survive B10 (if they all get to level 3 or 4).
        Strong agreement with the importance of actual play reports (or details of playtests).


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