Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Adventure in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Learn more at our website: http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/the-one-ring/
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Agnot
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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Agnot » Fri Mar 16, 2018 5:21 pm

Here is the next update. It is still lagging a few years behind where we are story-wise, but this gives me a chance to reread and, hopefully, clarify my story summaries. Enjoy.

The Folk-Moot at Rhosgobel & The Battle of the Village at Black Tarn (Summer 2947)

The calling of a folk-moot in Rhosgobel brought woodsmen, traders, and foreign travelers from all over Wilderland. Lengthy discussions and heated arguments were had over whether to allow the Black Tarn Village and Sunstead to join the ranks of the Woodsmen. Just as things were getting settled, Mogdred arrived in force and demanded to be accepted into the Woodmen community. Hergar’s lost cousin, Koli, was among his retinue. To further secure his demands, Mogdred presented Ignomer with the second missing half of Wolf-biter and declared himself as Ignomer’s lost son, Ingold. With the help of the company, Mogdred’s demands were rebuffed and he leaves the folk-moot bitter and angry.

Soon after Mogdred’s departure, a scout from the Black Tarn Village, home to shield-maiden Amaleoda, arrived and begged for aid. The village had come under attack from orcs and stands on a precipice. The fellowship rallied the peoples gathered in Rhosgobel and raced to the rescue of the Black Tarn Village where they fended off several attacks against the town and held the gate against a mighty orc warlord.

Alaric’s Tale: Reluctantly, Alaric revealed his portion of Wolf-biter to Ignomer to rebuff Mogdred’s claim at being his lost son, Ingold. Alaric’s efforts at convincing Ignomer that his son may in fact be the strange hermit they met along the Elf-path were successful and Ignomer joined them on the march to defend the Village on the Black Tarn.

Together with Hergar, Alaric winters in the Black Tarn Village to help rebuild its defenses and to patrol the forest to protect the trade caravans running between Rhosgobel and the Black Tarn from raids by Mogdred’s men. Their efforts are rewarded, and they come to be well-liked among the woodsmen of the new, thriving community on the lake.

Calithilon’s Tale: After the folk-moot and the Battle of Black Tarn Village, Calithilon returned to the Easterly Inn in the hopes of encountering Frár the Beardless, as he is Calithilon’s only lead in the search for Ellaras. Much to Calithilon’s dismay, Frár does not appear; however, he does spend his winter in the friendly and jovial company of the Brandybucks. The time he spends there, in good company and playing with the hobbit children, helps diminish some of the shadow that had continued to loom over him. Late in the winter, he has a chance encounter with Legolas that leads to a journey of a different sort.

Hergar’s Tale: Koli arrived in Rhosgobel as part of Mogdred’s delegation, much to Hergar’s dismay. Despite Hergar’s best efforts, Koli could not be persuaded to relinquish his embrace of the shadow, and Hergar watched as he left again with Mogdred’s entourage.

Together with Alaric, Hergar winters in the Black Tarn Village to help rebuild its defenses and to patrol the forest to protect the trade caravans running between Rhosgobel and the Black Tarn from raids by Mogdred’s men. Their efforts are rewarded, and they come to be well-liked among the woodsmen of the new, thriving community on the lake.

Rolf’s Tale: In the hopes of developing a mining operation in Mountain Hall, Rolf wintered there with their leader, Hartfast. After earning Hartfast’s trust, Rolf and Bofri were permitted to survey the mines and offer any suggestions they may have to improve them. Bofri agreed to do this as a favor to Rolf, with the understanding that Rolf will aid him at some point in the future in his efforts to reopen the Old Dwarven Road through Mirkwood. Hartfast agreed with their suggestion that a crew of dwarven miners could properly train his people in the ways of mining and thereby increase the mine’s output. To this end, he gave Rolf some Treasure that is to be used to recruit a crew of dwarven miners from Erebor.

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Agnot » Sat Mar 24, 2018 10:08 pm

A quick Loremaster's note on this update. After running this adventure, I quite frankly, hated it. Even after reading through it, I had not realized exactly how much of each event was outside the control of the players to have any real impact. Things were simply being inflicted on them and I felt like I had railroaded them through a horribly depressing adventure.

However, after a few days of reflection, I began to slowly change my mind. The reason being that this is the first adventure where they encountered an evil that they had no hope of defeating...only surviving. Life went from killing orcs and spiders to being overwhelmed by the horror of something unknowable. It was their first real taste of true hopelessness. And it was a necessary transition to make as they move deeper into the story line of Darkening of Mirkwood.

Those Who Tarry No Longer (Late Winter/Early Spring 2948)

It was the fellowship’s great honor to escort Irimë, a high elf of old, at the request of Legolas and King Thranduil, to the High Pass where she was to be met by representatives from Rivendell. The journey began smoothly enough, with the fellowship listening as Irimë solemnly reflected on the changes that had occurred in the lands around her over the passing centuries. Alas, things went awry when a force of orcs were discovered to be pursing them and the fellowship was forced to make a desperate march towards the mountains in the hopes of losing them. Vastly outnumbered, they were soon cornered and looked to be quickly overwhelmed. However, luck was with them as the Eagles rescued them just in the nick of time and put them back on their right path. In short order, they arrived at the ruins of an ancient town where they were to await the arrival of Rivendell’s escorts. There, a dark force descended upon them and sought to overwhelm Irimë. Reaching out to the fellowship for aid, she drew them all into a grim nightmare where they relived the Necromancer’s invasion of the town, were enslaved, and taken to Dol Guldur where they fought desperately to survive. Through the goodness of their actions, the inspiration found in their words, and the sacrifices they willingly made, the fellowship managed to fend off the dark spirit and released Irimë from her prison. However, the experience has left its shadow upon them and they now realize that there are terrible evils in the world, the like of which they have never encountered before and are wholly unprepared to face.

Alaric’s Tale: During their rescue by the eagles, one of them was wounded by an orc arrow. Alaric successfully healed the Wound earning the thanks of the eagles who agreed to come to his aid should he ever call them. In his nightmare, Alaric fought to keep an elderly sick man, Haldor, alive despite the horrible conditions in the dungeons of Dol Guldur.

Calithilon’s Tale: The experience in the nightmare caused all the color to drain from Calithilon’s hair, turning it stark white.

Hergar’s Tale: Hergar willingly took the place of young Haleth in the fighting pits of Dol Guldur where he suffered terribly before succumbing to death. After their ordeal, Irimë came to him in a dream. Her soothing words eased his inner-turmoil, releasing him from the burden of his family’s death. His amulet, gifted to him by his daughter, was healed also, its charred wood falling away to reveal fresh wood beneath.

Rolf’s Tale: Rolf’s inspiring words lifted the spirits of those in the cells beneath Dol Guldur, giving them the will to persevered in the face of terrible adversity.

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Agnot » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:09 pm

The write-up of this particular adventure seems short, but a lot happened. Much of it involved many of the player's personal tales, so those event are listed in their respective sections. I felt it important to include this adventure in their Tale of Years even though I brought it in a little sooner than The Darkening of Mirkwood suggests because I want them to witness the changes to Dol Guldur over time.

We started the adventure in Woodmen-town where Alaric spoke to Ignomer before the fellowship traveled down river to spend an evening in Black Tarn Hall. From there, they journeyed south to Dol Guldur. Along the way, they encounter a trade caravan from Sunstead that had been recently raided by Mogdred's men. They eventually caught up to Mogdred's men, who were in the mist of battle with orcs. They helped defeat the orcs, but chose to send Mogdred's men on their way without further bloodshed. Sneaking around Fenbridge Castle, the fellowship entered Dol Guldur, found the information they were looking for and then bid a hasty retreat due to the heavy Corruption that still laid on the castle.

Secrets Buried (Summer 2948)

The fellowship journeys with Radagast to Dol Guldur in the hopes of discovering the dark schemes that the Necromancer was planning for the Free People of Wilderland before he was forced to flee by the White Council. Though many obstacles laid in their path, they managed to traverse through the Narrows, Southern Mirkwood, and even the swamp surrounding Fenbridge castle to come to the very gates of Dol Guldur. They found the ancient keep abandoned, but that made it no less malevolent. Searching inside, they found clues to suggest that a spy has infiltrated King Thranduil’s Halls. Disconcerting news, indeed, and more information would need to be gathered; but, their brief stay had already taken its toll on them and Radagast thought it best to return to Rhosgobel as quickly as possible.

Alaric’s Tale: Ignomer speaks with Alaric in Woodmen Town under the light of the Lamp of Balthi. He asks him to swear an oath that he will reclaim the second piece of Wolf-biter from Mogdred and see that it is reforged in time to defend the Woodmen from the coming shadow.

Calithilon’s Tale: Calithilon dreams of Irimë. They meet in the gardens of Rivendell where she examines his white hair, casting doubt on her earlier prophecy regarding Ellaras. In the shadow of Dol Guldur, Calithilon’s dreams turn dark and he envisions himself standing atop the Roaring Falls, a spear of unparalleled quality in his hand, as an earth-shaking roar emanates from below.

Hergar’s Tale: The Fellowship encounters a group of Mogdred’s men who have been ambushed by orcs and are sorely pressed. Koli is the group’s leader and he is dealt a grievous wound before the fellowship can reach them. All the orcs are slain, and Alaric manages to stabilize Koli. Being unable to wait for him to recover so that they may speak, Hergar sends the remaining soldiers of Mogdred back to Tyrant’s Hill with Koli and instructs him to tell Koli all that has happened, and that they will meet again soon. During their time at Dol Guldur, Hergar manages to overcome the nightmarish visions of his past experience there when he was trapped in Irimë’s dream. Those nightmares will haunt him no longer.

Rolf’s Tale: Rolf receives news that King Bard is getting married next year and that he is obligated to attend the wedding. At Black Tarn Hall, he became enraptured with Sunshadow, a river-maiden, and spends as evening with her under the stars on the shores of the Black Tarn. He later visited the Market on the River to see what other traders in the region were offering.

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Majestic » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:20 pm

Another excellent recap! I really like how you share each individual member of the Fellowship's perspective, too! :)
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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Agnot » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:43 pm

Our fellowship can only gather to play every 4-6 weeks due to busy schedules and sometimes, such as during the holidays, it becomes impossible to bring everyone together. I put this particular adventure together because one player, Hergar, wanted to play in December but none of the others were able to attend. I threw out some options on what the adventure could cover and where it could be set. He chose to return to his Holding in the Northern Dalelands and have it set there. The rest he left to me.

What I love about this adventure is that the NPC's, locations, and villains were all the creation of Hergar. He has really gone-to-town weaving his character's personal narrative and developing relationships on the periphery of the main story-line. Many of his creations have had an impact on the main story line and may affect it further.

Be warned, this write-up is lengthy.

A Red Dawn’s Rise-Hergar’s Tale (Winter 2948)

Hergar and the rest of the fellowship returned to the Northern Dalelands where they eventually parted ways to head towards their respective sanctuaries for the winter. The weather had turned cold and chilling winds swept over the plains from the Grey Mountains to the north. Hergar saw smoke rising from his cabin’s chimney long before it came into view. Upon arrival, he noticed that it had been well-maintained in his absence and that a young woman dressed in a long skirt, stained from the soil of the garden, was tending to one of the small vegetable patches that now grew around the cabin.

The young woman was Rúna, the nineteen-year-old granddaughter of the fisherman Hergar saved from the Blackwrists in the Summer of 2946. She became ecstatic at the sight of Hergar and leapt into his arms before he had time to ask for her explanation for being there. It was good to see her again and he immediately noticed that she now bore a large scar, a cut from the right corner of her mouth that curved towards her eye in a half-grin that is reminiscent of the one Rasmus the Grin bore. The scar was only a few months old and had not fully healed, but it did not keep Rúna from kissing him on the cheek.

Inside, Hergar found his cabin to be not only well-maintained, but improved. The bedding was fresh and new blankets were stacked at its foot. Fresh clothes, boots, and other leather goods hung from the walls. A pile of firewood was neatly stacked outside his door, enough to last all winter. Fishing poles and nets hung inside the door next to a thick, bear-skinned coat. Most importantly, his bees had been adequately cared for and pots of honey were stacked on shelves throughout his cabin. A small pouch containing two Treasure worth of coins sat on the table next to some bread and honey along with a vase of freshly-picked flowers.

Once dinner was prepared and the two had shared a meal of rabbit stew along with roasted vegetables from Hergar’s garden and mead made from his honey, Rúna explained why she was there. Shortly after Hergar left to travel west, the Blackwrists had a resurgence in their numbers and their crimes went from being petty to significant. Rumors suggested that just this past summer they burned the warehouse a prominent business man and lord, Ulf of Strandburg, in Lake-town. Just over a year ago, the Blackwrists returned in force to the small fishing village she and Egill, her grandfather, had recently relocated to after Hergar’s initial brush with the Blackwrists. Rasmus took up residence at the local inn and seized Egill’s home to house some men while he went about extorting the townspeople. Due to his part in Rasmus’ earlier humiliation, Egill had been forced to become his man-servant, whom they treated terribly, and she worried for his health. Rúna was forced to work in a brothel and Rasmus claimed her for his own, eventually cutting the half-grin into her face to mirror his own scar. With Egill’s help she escaped last Spring and came seeking Hergar in the hopes that he would save them again. When he was not home, she decided to wait for his return. All the King’s patrols have been pulled in preparation for the King’s upcoming wedding and there is no one to defend them from the ruffians. She offered some modest payment once their assets are reclaimed from the Blackwrists, but Hergar promptly refused it.

The fire in Hergar’s belly burned hot and his sleep that night was restless. The next morning, Rúna and he struck out for Ty’s Harbour, determined to finish what the Blackwrists had started. The journey was quick, and they arrived at the small fishing village a few days later. They stopped at a farm on the outskirts of town to stay at a local farmer’s home, both to stay hidden from the Blackwrists and so that Hergar could spend some time watching them to see what they were up to. Ty’s Harbour was a small village, comprised mostly of a small inn, stables, and a general store. He watched the local inn where Rasmus had taken up residence. Observing that several of his henchman left the village each day to travel to outlying farms, he determined that his best approach would be to pick them off a few at a time rather than confront Rasmus directly. Following two men into the countryside, he caught them extorting a local herder. He warned the men away, but they chose to attack, so he cut them down. Stashing the bodies, he swore the herder to silence and returned to town to continue watching the inn.

He had hoped to use the stables as a point-of-observation, but an encounter with another Blackwrist nearly caused him to be revealed. After giving the ruffian an opportunity to change his ways, he struck the man unconscious and left him tied up in a horse stall. A noise across the road caught his attention and he moved to see what was happening. Inside the inn, Rasmus was beating Egill and berating his men. As the sun drew low in the sky, Hergar moved across the road to listen under a window outside the inn. However, being a large bear-of-a-man, he was quickly noticed. Forgoing all pretense of stealth, he marched inside, axe in hand to find Rasmus sitting a table, half-drunk and startled. Rasmus made no move for his blade but began to tell Hergar what would soon happen to all those who he had come to help due to his interference. His blood boiling, Hergar struck him down where he sat. The other Blackwrists quickly fled out the back door and into the night.

That evening, the town gathered in the streets to celebrate their liberation from the Blackwrists. Later that night, as the celebration was winding down, a pony slowly wandered into town from the east. Lashed to the pony was Egill’s dead body, beaten almost beyond recognition with a note pinned to his lips that read “Tomorrow.” A dark rider appeared on the edge of town and shouted that “Sark is coming tomorrow! At noon! And he’s gonna see to it that you all pay!” The residents, horrified, panicked and began to run home. Rúna looked to Hergar with tears of grief and rage streaming down her face. It’s a look that Hergar knew all too well.

All through the night, Hergar did his best to console a grieving Rúna while worrying about the implications of the note. The following morning, he found that her resolve was steeled and that together, they would face whatever came. They did their best to rally anyone in the town who was willing to fight and waited.
At noon a massive man, more creature than man really, walked into town with a dozen Blackwrists by his side. His name was Sark the Bear-skinned, and he was there to put an end to Hergar and Ty’s Harbour. He called Hergar out, who eagerly accepted the challenge. They fought in the street, surrounded by the sounds of battle as Rúna and the townspeople clashed with the remaining Blackwrists. The first strike bit deep into Hergar and he felt poison course into his veins. Rage and desperation swelled within him and he cut down Sark with a series of savage blows. Around him, many of the Blackwrists lay dying, the others fleeing. Taking a moment to savor their victory, he dropped to his knees and watched the world disappear as he lost consciousness.

He lay in Rúna’s cabin by the lake for the remainder of the winter, recovering from his wound. Fearing he would die, she traveled to Strandburg and returned with Alaric who could help neutralize the effects of the poison. During his many bouts of unconsciousness, she took the treasured pendant from around his neck and had a friend of hers, Frár the Beardless, craft it into a true heirloom using the bag of her families tiny fireheart gems, a treasure that had been in her family for generations. Once he was well enough to travel, they both returned to Hergar’s cabin in the Northern Dalelands.

Hergar’s Tale: Earned two Treasure from his Holding. Rúna had Frár the Beardless turn Hergar’s necklace into a Wondrous Item, The Amulet of the Once-Scarred Heart. Her grandfather dead, Rúna returned to Hergar’s cabin with him to be its caretaker in his absence.

Amulet of the Once-Scarred Heart: An amulet made from the circular pendant that Hergar’s youngest daughter, Kelda, carved for him years ago before his family was slaughtered by orcs. A heart has been roughly-hewn from the center of an oaken chip that once bore the charred scar of the fire from that fateful night long ago. At Rúna’s request, Frár the Beardless took the original pendant, banded it in gold, gave it a silver chain, and encrusted the upper third of the heart’s right side with firestones that were given to him by Rúna. They are inlaid in such a fashion as to give the impression that brilliant orange and red embers are sweeping over the heart and reigniting as they catch the firelight. During the day, the stones glimmer a verdant green, a sign of the new growth that will one day make Hergar’s heart whole again.
o The amulet grants Hergar the ability to see into the hearts of men to discern their true motives and intentions.
o Wondrous Item: Bestows a Greater Blessing to Insight
A. Double Wisdom bonus to all Insight tests.
B. Spend one Hope to yield a Magical result from the test.

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:20 pm

Very nice. Hergar had an eventful winter, though I do wonder if a Beorning would approve of owning a bearskin coat. Perhaps a ritual might involve thanking the bear for the use of its pelt? Certainly the hunting and killing of bears must be forbidden in Beorning lands?

It makes a little more sense that Sark may have been so equipped.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

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Agnot
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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Agnot » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:53 pm

Otaku-sempai wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:20 pm
Very nice. Hergar had an eventful winter, though I do wonder if a Beorning would approve of owning a bearskin coat. Perhaps a ritual might involve thanking the bear for the use of its pelt? Certainly the hunting and killing of bears must be forbidden in Beorning lands?

It makes a little more sense that Sark may have been so equipped.
It's funny, I never even considered that. I can understand they may treat them with reverence, but I don't see them "worshiping" the bear or anything along those lines. As a point of reference, Hwalda the Hill-men guide wears a warg skin cloak and their spirit animal is a warg. Either way, it's nothing I'd get too hung up on.

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Majestic » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:28 pm

Outstanding and very well written! I couldn't stop reading once I started! 8-)
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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Otaku-sempai » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:52 pm

Agnot wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:53 pm
I can understand they may treat them with reverence, but I don't see them "worshiping" the bear or anything along those lines. As a point of reference, Hwalda the Hill-men guide wears a warg skin cloak and their spirit animal is a warg. Either way, it's nothing I'd get too hung up on.
I wasn't trying to suggest that the Beornings worshiped bears; I was thinking more of the general reverence for nature shown by a hunter who thanks the spirit of a slain animal for the food and resources it represents. However, my view is informed by the attitudes attributed to Beorn himself in The Hobbit.
"Don't be a fool Mr. Baggins if you can help it; and in the name of all wonder don't mention the word furrier again as long as you are within a hundred miles of his house, nor rug, cape, tippet, muff, or any other such unfortunate word!"
And:
"At any rate he is under no enchantment but his own. He lives in an oak-wood and has a great wooden house; and as a man he keeps cattle and horses which are nearly is marvellous as himself. They work for him and talk to him. He does not eat them; neither does he hunt or eat wild animals. He keeps hives and hives of great fierce bees, and lives most on cream and honey. As a bear he ranges far and wide. I once saw him sitting all alone on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears; ‘The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!’ That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself."
I do not believe that all of Beorn's followers would have given up eating meat, but they might have stopped wearing clothes of fur and leather (at least in the presence of Beorn) and probably refrained from hunting and killing bears.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

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Re: Hope Against the Shadow-A Tale of Years

Post by Falenthal » Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:50 am

Regarding the Beornings vs Fur comments, a Warg pelt would probably be very appreciated among them. Wargs are really hated by Beorn, just remember how happy he was after slaying the goblins and wargs that had attacked Thorin's Company in the Misty Mountains slopes. He even hanged them at his house's porch.

Just for thematic reasons, I even changed the name of the Beorning's Reward "Noble Armour" to "Warg-pelt Armour" [and it only gives a bonus to Valour, not to Wisdom]. Hunting a warg can be seen as one of those practices among human cultures (in real world) where a young man has to hunt a certain animal to become an adult man. The warg-pelt of his prey becomes then a symbol of his fearlessness.

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