[Actual Play] B2 Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XXII: A long march home

And so it was that the heroes resided for 1 week in the halls of King Gripli, lamenting the death of their comrades, mending their injuries, and staying as guests of the King. At the end of the week, he called them to his hall, and there under the eyes of his knights bestowed on them the title of Friends of Dwarvenkind, and gifted them a pair of gauntlets imbued with the strength of ogres. On Snorri and the warrior Brandt, he bestowed a burden, to accompany the warriors on their sojourn to the Keep, and to serve them in their ordeal, that the debt of honor of the dwarves could be repaid.

They set out, diminished in number, only 5. Nortein the hunter, Isidoro the rogue, the Sorcerer Skeines and the two dwarves. An escort of 16 stalwart dwarves ensured they reached the lake near the flooded temple without interruption. From thereon out, they circled around the lake, climbed the canyon, and made their way into the temple, picking over the scraps left behind and finding little trace of habitation, but for the terrible Griffon they had encountered there before. They spent the night arguing on their next course of action, and resolved to follow the river’s winding course south, and so reach Civilization, and to cast themselves on the Castellan’s mercy.

Day 1 they crossed through the territory of the Throatcutters, a ferocious clan of Hobgoblins, and were asked to pay tribute for safe passage. Resentfully, they parted with some paltry amount of gold, barely avoiding insult, and the hobgoblins took it and left them be. They talked briefly of the other terrors of the region, and the Hobgoblins gave curt and noncommital answers, boasting of their prowess. By afternoon, many miles away, they travelled along a fork of the river, to find a fordable place, and encountered one near a cavern, surrounded by bones, and smelling strangley. From it came a terrible voice that announced itself as Anasurimbibor the Undefeatable. They parleyed with the hideous beast, and it was Snorri and Nortein who told it they had travelled there only to pay it tribute. It acceded gracefully, and when they made a measely pile of gold and their buried nuggets, came forward, a green wyrm, larger then a horse, to paw the stored wealth. When they asked it questions of the region, it demanded yet more gold, and gemstones, amethysts, and brocaded silk, and silver, electrum and all the riches of the earth, and they assured it they would get it more, and gingerly departed. They slept peacefully, though they had spent some of their wealth.

The second day they passed without incident, encountering no living thing amid the rock and the black waters, making good time through the ragged hilly terrain. By night they set a watch, and ate the rapidly dwindling mushroom bread of the dwarves. The third day they noted that their supplies were rapidly dwindling. They spent a day hunting, but the forest yielded little of its bounty. Only Skeines the wizard caught some patridges with his spell of sleeping, and this barely enough to feed two. By dusk they were regarded balefully by the silhoutte of a Unicorn, standing on the forested hill and departing soon they caught sight of it. The forest would yield its bounty only resentfully from that moment on, and they found wherever they went that the bushes of berries had just been plucked, the roots had been gnawed, or the eggs of birds had always just been poached. Thus they suffered from hunger, and other depredations.

The fourth day the hillocks and crags gave way to the ancient forest, and their spirits were lifted, though they were almost out of food. They encountered nothing and spent the night in forlorn terror. The night of their journey they were set upon by bandits, who came upon them ere they well noticed it. But these they had met before, and recognized among the Figure of Olgo the Strangler, one of the dreaded retainers of Lothar Kingsblade. He accepted their invitation to join them at their fire, interrogated them as to their purpose, and as they had no food, he offered them some of his own, telling them to pass on a message to the Castellan on his behalf. As they seemed quite resentful and afeared of the castellan, they asked what to pass on, and he gave them a dagger, and told them to stick it under his ribs, for which he would offer them 500 golden crowns. He departed and left them be.

The sixth day they were close to the Keep, but misfortune struck. While foraging, Nortein stumbled upon the bathing form of Anasurimbibor the Dragon, who promptly demanded his tribute. Finding no suitable answer, Nortein simply ran, and lost the dragon, who was quite lazy, in the forest. Perhaps driven by fear, he pursued his own course home, seperate from the rest of the Champions. By midday, he stumbled into an eerily peaceful grove, and there was confronted by dainy maidens of the forest, with hair like autumn leaves and skin like creamy wood. They cursed him for his clumsiness and ungainly appearance, and bade him leave their grove in peace. He did so, and there was no further incident.

The others encountered in the woods a Troll of ferocious mien. Mad with hunger and foolhardy bravery, they attacked it, Isidoro and Skeines making fire over a torch whilst Snorri faced the creature and Brandt dug out a torch also. As it reached them, Skeines lassooed it, slowing it down so Snorri could hold it off, though he was wounded thereby. Isidoro and Brandt approached with torches lit. It was doused in oil as it cut down Snorri, leaving him insensate on the forested floor. Brandt pressed a torch into its flesh and the oil lit, and it was wrapped in flame. Then began the terrible fight, as they weaved in and out and struck it with torches, Skeines bombarded the creature with a magic dart, and it clawed and bit at them, the rope soon consumed by fire. Its teeth wrenched off Brandt’s head. Skeines threw a flask of oil like a pitcher, and the beast collapsed to the ground, uttering hideous roars as the fire consumed it properly. They mourned their friend, and made a stretcher for Snorri, and continued into the forest, hungry and terribly injured.

The 7th day they met up with Nortein once again, and travelled without incident for a full day, spending the evening among the familiar forest of the Keep’s environs. By day they marched through its gates, exhausted, barely making it to the tarvern to eat their fill, when the castellan’s men intervened and took them to the Keep. Nortein had reported willingly, pausing not to eat.

The Castellan was quite incensed that they had not recovered the Horn, however, he noted their terrible loses, and their obsequious mien, and showed them a rare clemency, promising them the opportunity to regain his favor. He noted the Caverns were still inhabited by evil worshippers of Chaos, and in response to a query by Nortein, vowed that he would ask his men if they had seen the strange ships of the Dragon Cult. After this Nortein retired into a tavern, and ate and slept a long time.

They undertook two more actions, joined by Cork the cleric, a man of great bulk and piety, having come to the Forsaken wilderness to preach the credo of Law, Bongo the Halfling, and Fox the elf, who had survived all this time, working elven mischief. They comissioned two suits of plate from the ample funds left behind by the old champions. Also they cracked open the lock on the TOME OF POWER recovered from Nuromen’s ruins, and studying it, found therein all his knowledge of spirits, the realm of dreams, the language of the sprites, and plentiful other arcane tidbits, enough for Skeines to reach a new level of arcane mastery, and Fox the Elf to remember much that he had forgotten.

They also travelled into the Caves, and parleyed with the Demon’s Sons tribe, and learned from them that while the caves of the Kobolds had been inhabited by a new cave of Orcs that was more formidable and ferocious, the Hobgoblin cave had remained empty in their absence. They purchased a cask of oil, and supplies for 3 weeks, so they could use it as an outpost, or fallback area in place of attack. Bongo reconnoitered the caves by day and by night, and found that by night the humoids would send out foraging parties, and sent also groups to the Temple high above, to offer tribute and supplies, and at midnight, to attend the eerie sermons of the Worshippers of Chaos, and to wander off as if in a daze thereafter.

They prepared and mustered, and resolved to assail the Caverns once again after the week was done, and their comrade Snorri had been healed.

The Champions

[Q] Skeines (Mu 2, hp 6)
[P] Snorri (Dwr 1, hp 9) – Disabled but not mortally injured
[Aleph-Null] Fox the Elf (Elf 1, hp 5)
[N] Nortein the Hunter (Ftr 2, 10 hp)
[R] Brandt the Dwarf (Dwr 1, 9 hp)
[L] Isidoro the Knave (Thf 3, 12 hp)

The Tally
1 Troll

The Price
[A] Otso (MU 1, 3 hp) – Slain by Treachery
[B] Hardroc Sansaxe (Dwr 1, 4 hp) – Died on his feet against the Goblin Foe
[C] Buddy (Ftr 1, 6 hp) – Died in the rearguard against Kobold treachery
[D] Valen (Thf 1, 2 hp) – Felled by Kobold arrow in the Battle of the Warrens
[C] Brother Buddy (Clr 1, 3 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s spearthrust
[E] Quinton RumbleBreeches (Hal 1, 6 hp) – Felled by a bandit’s arrow
[B] Sazar Thistleborne (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Ripped apart by a Mountain Lion in the Perilous forest
[C] Brother Buddy Jr. (Clr 1, 4 hp) – Drained of life by monstrous Stirges
[F] Hardy the Dwarf (Dwr 1, 6 hp) – Clubbed to death by Ogre
[B] Zed Fauxgivvin (Hal 1, 4 hp) – Fell to a hobgoblin sword, but he did not go alone
[G] Colemeier Stonesaw (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Fell to hobgoblin sowrds
[E] Father Kane (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Fell to Hobgoblin swords
[H] Ludwig Andros (MU 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[I] Derek de Chitsville (Ftr 1, 8 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[J] Vinnie Jones (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[K] Johhny Longfingers (Thf 1, 4 hp) – Charmed and eaten by Harpies
[L] Vitus the Southron (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Eaten by Harpies
[I] Father Theodore (Clr 1, 6 hp) – Struck down by skeletons
[J] Box the Fighter (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Struck down by Valgard, breaker-of-horses-and-men
[A] Diggory Class (MU 1, 4 hp) – Slain by Poisoned treasure
[M] Pajeje (Ftr 1, 9 hp) – Slain by poisoned treasure
[B] Chinning Poofter (Mu 2, hp 6) – Rent asunder by furious Griffon
[N] Grog (Ftr 1, 10 hp) – Drowned in armor in the bay of the Flooded Temple
[Retainer] Father Bell the Octogenarian (Clr 2, hp 12) – Devoured by the Basilisk
[M] Father Paisisco the Blessed (Clr 2, 6 hp) – Turned to stone by the Basilisk’s Gaze
[P] Roger (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Rent asunder by the Chimera
[P] Bali (Dwr 1, 8 hp) – Incinerated by the Chimera
[R] Brandt (Dwr 1, 9 hp) – Ripped by Troll



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3 thoughts on “[Actual Play] B2 Keep on the Borderlands Pt. XXII: A long march home

  1. A lot of dwarven deaths of late.

    What the heck possessed them to set off on a weeklong journey without food? Seems a bit short-sighted. For all their grumps about having to pay bribes to the various bandits and monsters of the wilderness, they could have perhaps purchased some rations prior to departing the dwarf realm, no?

    You can’t eat gold.

    I realize B/X doesn’t have starvation rules (nor do I recall seeing any in BECMI/RC, though I may have forgotten). I did come up with rules for dehydration in my B/X Companion (STR loss based on exposure/lack of water) and would probably do the same for starvation albeit at a half-rate or quarter-rate (depending on activity level of the characters). Just to apply pressure and force them to acknowledge logistical realities.

    The return of Foxy! Looking forward to reading the next excursion.

    RE Building an “Outpost”

    I’ve found this to be an ideal approach to scouring the Caves; however, I would strongly recommend against bivouacking in the hobgoblin warren. That’s just asking for trouble. My own party’s redoubt is on the TOP of the cliffs, set some way back from the edge, and is far more defensible (as well as allowing us to descend from above). We just started our assault on the Temple area in our last session.
    ; )

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    1. They had rations for a week, generously bestowed on them by the Dwarven King. They neglected to buy more, and neglected to try to build a raft, despite my mentioning the rugged terrain and the clear dangers. I probably could have been more stringent with enforcing starvation rules, I imagine for one that the travel speed would be reduced, as well as combat penalties enforced after the first combat. It should not be completely crippling, but it should have an impact.

      Race you to the finish Becker!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Exciting troll fight, but couldn’t they have avoided it? What were they hoping to gain? To paraphrase Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: “Morons, I’ve got morons on the team. When the monster is out of its lair, it ain’t got no treasure. When it is in the lair, then it has the treasure. Now ambush it.”
    Might they have asked the (obligated) dwarves for advice concerning the safest way to make the journey?
    A good session, especially if the players learn the lessons.

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