Re-taking the Greydelve

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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:49 pm

Thanks for that Majestic and Agnot! I'll definitely be borrowing some of that for my Fellowship and my games!

Update from Friday (4/13)

After a bit more travel, the Fellowship ended up at The Old Ford, where they made the acquaintance of several of the more prominent inhabitants, including Gelvira Potstirrer. Taking some time to fulfill their own "mission" as well as Beorn's they asked about any Dwarves that had passed through the area recently, as well as pursuing the rumors of the murder in Stonyford further. As far as the rumors go, they learned little more than the riverfolk had told them. They learned that the Dwarves they were looking for had passed over the Old Ford and had been going to Mountain Hall, the source of much of the Woodmen's mining and metal-working. The Dwarves had also returned back over the Ford and said their intention was to travel to Woodland Hall to meet with the leaders of the Woodmen. Eager to see how Men order their diggings, the Dwarves vowed to pay Mountain Hall a visit after they were done with Beorn's task. Amelia was able to use her Cooking Trait in combination with some great dice rolls to endear herself with Gelvira and several of the local Beornings by making a masterful stew and the reputation for Hobbit kitchen prowess grew many times that day.

The next day, the Fellowship set out for Stonyford again, continuing to take their time and look for signs of their quarry's passage. An encounter with a passing tinker traveling to Old Ford revealed that he had encountered a young man armed with a sword who had paid him a couple of silver pennies for one of his horses. Concerned that their quarry was now mounted, the Fellowship decided to make better time, allowing me to use the Forced March rules from the adventure a bit earlier than the designers likely intended. Everyone save Nur the Younger and Amelia passed their Fatigue checks, resulting in several jibes and jests at the "softness" of youth and the fairer sex.

Arriving at Stonyford, the party made a reasonably decent impression on the village leadership, especially after showing the badges that Beorn had given them and invoking "official business". The escaped prisoner was a young Man named Oderic who, after the death of Oderic's family, had been taken in by the most prominent warrior in the village Helmgut and raised as a foster son. The boy had apparently been considered somewhat "fell" by many in the village due to the unlucky nature of his life and his sullen attitude and dark moods. His only friend in the village was Helmgut's daughter Brunhild (also his foster sister). Things had gotten more tense when she had recently married a young warrior who had come from Mountain Hall named Rathfic. Rathfic was a doughty warrior and quickly became a favorite in the village and had taken the leadership of the village's fighting men, a position which Oderic himself felt was his due.

There were also rumors that Oderic was upset because he romantically loved his foster-sister and that Rathfic abused her. Oderic had either approached Brunhild and urged her to run away with him or tried to kidnap her against her will (the rumors were fuzzy about the specifics) and Rathfic was killed while confronting Oderic. During the conflict between the two men, Oderic's foster-father arrived at the tail-end and found his foster-son standing over the dead body of his son-in-law. A fine warrior in his own right, Helmgut subdued Oderic and turned him over to the village elders, who then turned him over to Beorn's men Merovech and Odo to be taken to the Carrock for trial.

Realizing that they might be able to get a clearer picture of what had transpired, the Fellowship decided to question Helmgut and Brunhild. They got nowhere with Helmgut, who was deep in his cups in sorrow and grief, and even threatened them with an axe! So, they instead chose to approach Brunhild, who they found planting flowers on her dead husband's grave.

Amelia handled the bulk of the questioning and was able to learn the truth of what had transpired that night. Oderic, who had always felt like an outsider in the village, had come to try and convince her to run away with him. His plans were vague beyond finding work as a mercenary or soldier and she tried to talk him out of it and they argued. Rathfic returned from a hunting trip early and confronted Oderic for trying to "steal his wife away". The two men argued and when she tried to intervene to stop them, an angered Rathfic struck her, which caused Oderic to attack him in anger. After a brief struggle, Oderic killed Rathfic. Moments later, Helmgut entered and seeing his foster-son standing over his son-in-law holding a bloody knife, he knocked the young man out.

Everything else was much the same as rumor, although Brunhild denied that Rathfic abused her and that when he struck her that night, it had been the only time he had ever done so. She said that he wasn't an especially good husband, but neither was he a bad one. After some additional questioning, she confirmed that she had indeed seen Oderic recently. Just two days ago in fact! He'd come to her and told her about Merovech and Odo being ambushed by Orcs and he had been left alive when the boat drifted further downstream. He'd argued that Fate had given him a second chance and he wasn't going to "waste" it by turning himself in to be executed by Beorn for a "mistake". She told them that his plan was to cross the Anduin and head south, looking for work as a sellsword or soldier. He'd tried to get her to leave with him again and become angry when she'd refused and ridden off.

Learning all of this, the Fellowship debated their next course of action and whether Beorn's "mandate" compelled them to continue further south looking for Oderic or whether they should simply return to Beorn with the information that they had, since they were not his servants and had obligations of their own. After learning of the Wolfwood, a forest on the west bank of the Anduin that had a reputation as an outlaw haven. Thinking that that might have been his destination, they decide to cross the river and at least head south to the forest looking for signs of his passage.

The trip to the Wolfswood was fairly miserable, with unseasonably warm weather bringing a swarm of midges up from the marshes to the south and there was much grumbling by everyone. Only Dwarven determination to keep their promises kept them from throwing their hands up and turning back empty-handed. On the third day, the Fellowship's scouts (Otar and Amelia) saw a band of seedy-looking Men approaching and crept closer to investigate. They listened in on the Men's conversation, where they learned they were part of a much larger outlaw band living in the Wolfswood. The pair crept back to the Fellowship to inform them of this new development.

Thinking that Oderic may have been captured (or even joined) this band, they decided to set an ambush for the Men and take them for questioning. The ambush worked perfectly, with the outlaws surrendering almost immediately after taking a flurry of arrows and spears from the Fellowship. The outlaws confirmed that there was indeed a large band of Men (approximately 100, including camp followers and hangers-on) living in the forest and that they were led by a Man named Valter. Valter claimed kinship with the old Lord of Dale and had been gathering outlaws to his banner for some time, apparently intending to make a go at carving out a kingdom for himself in the Anduin Vales.

They also learned from one of the Men that a young Man matching Oderic's description had been captured two days ago. He hadn't been killed, instead Valter had apparently taken to the young man and was trying to convince the boy to join his cause. They also learned some disturbing rumors about Valter. One of the outlaws said that he had heard from a friend who served as a guard on Valter's tent that a strange green light would sometimes emanate from Valter's tent. The guard had also heard a strange, chilling voice at times when Valter was supposedly alone in his tent and that it was obvious from the way that Valter groveled to the voice that he was not his own man, but simply the subject of some darker power. The outlaw also added that his guard friend had disappeared a few days after speaking with him about this and that he had been planning to run away soon as well.

With this new information, the Fellowship became deeply concerned that they had stumbled onto something greater than a fleeing prisoner and debated their next course of action for a few moments. They decided that the search for Oderic was less important than gathering more info about this outlaw army and its leader. The plan was to have Nur the Younger and Vidar guard the prisoners while the stealthier members of the Fellowship (Amelia, Otar and, surprisingly, Nur the Elder) to sneak as close as possible to the outlaw camp to gather more information about the size and capabilities of the Men. In fact Nur, as a soldier, insisted on going to check the camp's defenses, readiness, etc. If they had a good approach, Otar and Amelia would slip into Valter's tent to see what they could learn about the lights and voices and to see if he had any battle plans or information which could help.

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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Rue » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:11 am

Sounds exciting, I hope you keep us posted on what happens next... especially since plans rarely survive contact with the enemy.

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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:20 pm

Update from Friday (4/20)

As per the previous session, the plan was for the three stealthy members of the Fellowship (Amelia, Otar and Nur the Elder) to sneak as close to the camp as possible for recon and perhaps to try to sneak into the tent of Valter, the leader of the bandit army. The initial search for the bandit camp (with extra dice from questioning the captured outlaws) and sneaking to the edge of the camp goes well, with the Fellowship's efforts taking place as the sun fell for maximum stealth.

The bandit camp does indeed look to hold about 100 Men, although only 50-60 of them appear to be fighting Men, with the remainder being wives, children and slaves. The bulk appear to be Northmen, but some have the look of Dunlendings and other folk from lands South of the Vales. Valter's tent is easily identifiable at the center of the camp, being the largest and most comfortable looking one. Nur the Elder is somewhat distressed to learn that it looks as if the outlaws are in the process of preparing to move the camp (his estimate is that they'll be ready to march in a day or two) and that a number of the Men are armed with swords, spears and other implements of war in addition to a larger number of makeshift weapons.

With a longer look, the trio are able to identify a Man that they believe is Oderic. He is at the side of another Man they identify as Valter and is apparently being treated as an guest rather than a prisoner, at least by Valter himself. It appears that the other outlaws may not be so quick to trust him and that his steps are shadowed by others of the outlaw band. They also learn that he apparently has free passage of the camp and beyond and that sometimes he goes walking in the woods nearby, yet always followed by an outlaw watcher.

Believing that this may be a sign of some dissent within the bandit army, the trio quietly discuss what to do next. With the realization that Oderic's knowledge of the Beornings and their settlements may be significant enough to do the people of the Vales harm, there is some talk of assassinating him. Although Otar and Nur the Elder are willing to do so (with varying degrees of reluctance), Amelia is unwilling to contemplate murder. And once the consequences of such Misdeeds are explained, none are willing to undertake that course. Of course, there is also the possibility of sneaking into Valter's tent and seeing what plans he may be hatching.

After a bit of discussion, the Fellowship decides to split their efforts. Otar and Amelia will try to sneak into Valter's tent to see what they can learn. Nur the Elder will return to where the rest of the Fellowship is and bring Vidar (and perhaps Nur the Younger) towards the encampment and try to ambush Oderic and take him prisoner.

After waiting a bit to give Nur a headstart, Amelia and Otar begin their attempt to sneak into the camp. Hobbit stealth renders Amelia nigh invisible in the smoky firelight and Otar (with some expenditure of Hope) follows suit, allowing them to slip into the tent unnoticed. From the dimmed lantern atop a small table and the chicken roasting on the firepit, they realize they may not have long to search.

A quick search reveals that the "table" is in fact a locked chest. With Atheliah keeping watch, Otar proceeds to put his Burglary abilities to use and dispatches the crude iron padlock. Inside, the finds clothing, a few papers (which they take) and a pair of sacks (one leather with crude stitching and one cloth). The clink of coins within the cloth one makes Otar's choice an easy one and he opens it to discover a small hoard of tarnished silver coins! Given the origin of the coins (taken from the vaults of The Necromancer), a Corruption check is in order for both of our heroes.

Amelia passes, but still gains 1 Shadow point. Otar rolls and Eye, accumulating 4 Shadow points and triggering our first Bout of Madness! Amelia watches with growing dread as Otar begins crowing over the silver coins, clearly setting down to count and polish the tarnished silver. When she hisses that there is no time for this foolishness, Otar snaps back at her in a raised voice, which prompts Amelia to stop her efforts to dissuade him for fear that his shouts will call the camp down upon them.

The other members of the Fellowship securely tie their prisoners and all three creep into the forest, intending to lay an ambush for Oderic. While the less stealthy Vidar and Nur the Younger lie in wait across what they hope will be Oderic's path, Nur the Elder shadows the Man and his outlaw escort. When it appears that Oderic has strayed as close to the lurking pair as he is likely to, Nur the Elder springs out and attacks Oderic, hoping to subdue him before he has a chance to get away!

After the initial ambush and a round of single combat, the battle is joined between the trio and Oderic. Oderic is a skilled combatant, but no match for three Dwarves waiting in ambush and is quickly subdued. The trailing outlaw, hearing the sounds of battle, tries to flee back towards the camp, shouting that Oderic is escaping as he does so! The trio quickly bind and gag Oderic and begin hustling back towards the rally point near the river that they'd chosen.

Back in Valter's tent Otar, thinking there may be more silver (or even gold!) in the other back, quickly cuts it open and to the shock and disgust of both of them, a mummified Man's head falls out! Otar quickly recovers from his shock and goes back to counting, leaving an increasingly worried and distressed Amelia to hatch a desperate plan!

She searches through Valter's things and finds a small cask of lamp oil, which she spreads liberally around the tent. That includes soaking the mummified head (which she is careful to touch only with her feet or with Valter's clothing covering her hands) and the interior of the chest. She sets the head alight and kicks it into the chest and a blaze erupts and a foul, thick black smoke boils from the head, which threatens to incapacitate both of them.

Pointing out the flames to Otar, Amelia manages to convince him that they need to "save" the treasure and he agrees, scooping up what he can as shouts begin to come from outside the tent. Otar seems determined to grab every silver penny, but Amelia is able to convince him that she'll grab the rest and pushes him from the burning tent and out the hole they'd cut into it. Unable to resist herself, Amelia grabs two fistfuls of coins and stuffs them in her own pockets before following him.

In the confusion, the pair is able to make it to the edge of the bandit camp (with Otar leaving a trail of silver coins behind him) and rush to the river, knowing that eventually the outlaws will begin a pursuit. After some fumbling about in the dark, the Fellowship eventually manages to regroup and, despite the lateness of the hour, decide to set forth with their captive immediately!

After (hopefully) gaining a few hours on any pursuers, they stop to quickly question Oderic. The young Man is angry and sullen, but eventually reveals that he had not given Valter any information about the defenses of Stonyford or any other Beorning towns. He does tell them that Valter is planning to attack the Old Ford and other Beorning and Woodmen holdings and forge a Kingdom for himself. He also says that he doesn't have any idea why Valter had a severed head in his possessions or any knowledge of the dark rumors surrounding the Man.

He tries to convince the Fellowship to let him free and he will accompany them of his own volition or even to just let him go and he will leave Beorning lands for good, but they decide against it. The Fellowship reaches the Old Ford with a few of them Weary and nearing Exhaustion. Once there, they tell the Beornings their story and it is decided to send word to Beorn himself for additional Men if the outlaws do attack. Being less Weary/Exhaused than the rest, Nur the Younger and Vidar immediately head out to warn Beorn and rally forces while the other members of the Fellowship remain behind to help prepare defenses and recover.

Oderic is imprisoned and (despite her objections), it is decided that Amelia will be tasked with guarding him since a young Hobbit lass has no place on the field of battle. Nur the Elder and Otar do what they can to prepare defenses, although there are only a dozen or so Men available to fight. Otar also has a chance to count his coins and discovers that he managed to escape with 8 Treasure, but laments that he had to leave at least as much behind in the tent or scattered on the forest floor. Amelia managed to secure 2 Treasure for herself. A closer look at the coins reveals that they apparently came from the old Kingdom of Rhovannion from centuries past.

The other two members of the Fellowship reach Beorn's House to deliver their message. They are pleased to learn that Beorn had already assembled a stout force of two dozen fighting Men for the purpose of hunting the Orcs who had killed Merovech and Odo. With this greater threat, Beorn will instead take them south and kill or drive off this bandit army. Nur the Younger and Vidar are allowed to rest the night in Beorn's house. After turning the command of the force to a trusted captain, a relative of Merovech, Beorn disappears into the forest and the Beornings nod sagely to themselves.

After another desperate march, Beorn's forces reach and cross the Ford just as the outliers from Valter's army are approaching. The two forces quickly array themselves for battle, with the Fellowship (minus Amelia) joining them. Back on the other side of the Old Ford Amelia, who has spent some time chatting with Oderic and has come to the decision that he's not a bad Man (even if he isn't a bright one), is softened by his appeals to free him so that he can redeem himself by fighting for his people. Annoyed at the attempts to "protect" her and reasoning that her assigned task was to watch Oderic, she jokes that she can watch him just as effectively from the battlefield as in a jail cell and frees him. In the confusion as the battle begins, the pair slips across the Ford to join the throng.

The Battle of the Old Ford may be a small skirmish compared to the Battle of Five Armies, but it is still a nasty business. The Dwarves try to fight their way through to Valter, but due to their own lingering Weariness are pushed back as are the Beornings. As for Valter, he may be an evil Man, but he is no fool when it comes to battle and handles his army of rabble with skill. When battle is joined again, the Fellowship makes another push, but still makes no gains. Until Oderic casts off the helm he'd been using to disguise himself and charges the line, calling out a challenge to Valter! Amelia trails behind him with her King's Blade drawn and the Fellowship is heartened and breaks the line!

Valter and Oderic square off while the rest of the Fellowship is entangled with Valter's guards. Oderic is able to Wound the older man, but in the end Valter's treachery and skill wins out over Oderic's valor and he fakes a surrender to mortally wound the young Man! Outraged, the Fellowship prepares to rush Valter, only to quail in terror as, with a deafening roar, a massive bear charges into the rear of the bandit force from a copse of trees. Tossing outlaws aside like a dog shakes off fleas, the bear charged into the terrified Valter and tramples him into the dust before turning to the rest of the outlaw army and putting them to flight.

Rushing to where Oderic fell, the Fellowship discovers that the young Man is dead, but has a peaceful smile upon his face. Being in various states of Wounded, the Fellowship drag themselves back to the Old Ford and collapse in exhaustion. For her part, Amelia is upset that Oderic died while he was her responsibility, only to have his foster-sister Brunhild overhear and comfort the Hobbit lass by saying that Oderic would rather have died in this fashion than face execution or exile as a common criminal.

A bit later, the Fellowship is joined by Beorn who solemnly thanks them for their service and pledges them a favor for their aid in bringing to an end this threat to his people. Although the others decide to hold their favor for a later time, Amelia asks for Beorn to allow Oderic to be remembered as a hero to his people as the rest of the fallen Beornings will. Beorn is reluctant to fully agree, but says that he will allow it, but only after he is "tried" for the crime of Kinslaying, adding that since Oderic is not here to speak for himself, Amelia will be allowed to do it for him. If, during the "trial", Beorn is convinced that Oderic's heroism outweighed the Kinslaying that he would allow him to be remembered as a hero.

Given their ragged state, the Fellowship unanimously decided to take a Fellowship Phase to recover. Beorn invited them to stay as his guests and, after some debate (as opening The Old Ford as a sanctuary had some appeal), they decide to accept the offer.


Apologies if this one ran a little long, but so did the session. The Fellowship had just made it back to The Old Ford and done some preparations (and reached Beorn's House) when our usual playtime was done, but I offered the option to continue on a bit longer and fight out the battle, which they accepted eagerly. I'll admit to taking some liberties with the flow of The Battle of the Old Ford for dramatic purposes, but the players didn't mind and loved the story. Vidar's player even commented that this level of excitement was more what he was accustomed to at the end of a campaign rather than the beginning and was wondering on how I plan to top this session!

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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Agnot » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:36 pm

Another excellent write-up! Don't worry about being long-winded. I love the read.
Wyrmling wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:20 pm
Believing that this may be a sign of some dissent within the bandit army, the trio quietly discuss what to do next. With the realization that Oderic's knowledge of the Beornings and their settlements may be significant enough to do the people of the Vales harm, there is some talk of assassinating him. Although Otar and Nur the Elder are willing to do so (with varying degrees of reluctance), Amelia is unwilling to contemplate murder. And once the consequences of such Misdeeds are explained, none are willing to undertake that course.
This sounds like you had some D&D-style players who were used to doing things the dastardly way. Good job letting them know there would be consequences for their actions.

I also take narrative liberties in big battles to keep them moving swiftly.

I'm loving the changes you've made in the story and look forward to reading more.

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Re: Re-taking the Greydelve

Post by Wyrmling » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:03 am

Thanks! Yeah, they try not to fall into the "murder hobo" stereotype, and usually succeed, but sometimes they stumble a bit. I'm also a big believer that no canned adventure survives contact with a group of PCs intact, so you have to be ready to roll with it. I'm just glad that they mentioned the possibility of sneaking into Valter's tent last time, so I had a chance to plan for it!

The Bout of Madness was unplanned too and Otar's player handled it great. My initial thought was to have him just try to carry it all out and increase their chances of getting caught, he was the one who suggested that he'd sit and try to count and polish it all first. I was also happy that Amelia's player thought of burning the tent down to force Otar to leave. She was also the one who went out of her way to try and talk some good Hobbit sense into Oderic once they were back at The Old Ford and genuinely felt bad when he died on her watch.

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