[Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

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Glorelendil
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Glorelendil » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:24 am

Can you link the fan adventure you used? I think I recall seeing it, but I'm having trouble finding it.
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Rich H
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 am

Glorelendil wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:24 am
Can you link the fan adventure you used? I think I recall seeing it, but I'm having trouble finding it.
It was posted under the house rules section which doesn't appear to show up in the Palantir Search: viewtopic.php?f=56&t=8683

I added comments to the thread regarding how it interacts with the other published adventures - eg, the Master's gold, the Gibbet King using treasure to lure Raenar, etc. When I used the adventure, I worked these things out in the background so the time line of events worked for me, allowing for the orc camp to be discovered by the PCs, but the treasure not recovered, in order to foreshadow the Gibbet King travelling north. So my take on the adventure simplified it to being just about the Black Arrow with some references to other things that may happen in the future. I also reckon the Bout of Madness episode helped in focusing on the arrow and its influence which made for a speedier outcome. It's a good adventure though and I enjoyed including it in my campaign.

Any thoughts on my campaign, Glor? Happy to provide further input/insight if you or others need it. I'm going to split the Crossings of Celduin into two parts; it's such an epic adventure.
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:31 pm

Adventuring Phase (Part One): The Crossings of Celduin, Betrayal in Dale
Autumn 2951
Together, the companions attend the festivities, beginning officially with King Bard’s proclamation of peace in the palace courtyard in Dale at the start of the Masked Ball. Before the ball begins they approach Gandalf, to share news from their travels but hoping the Grey Pilgrim also offers them any insight or advice.

In a quiet corner they confide in him their concerns for Bard and his possession of the Black Arrow, telling the wizard of the darkness that they felt with it in their keeping and the affect it had upon Thogrim. The wizard agrees but states there is nothing he can do; wrestling away the arrow from Bard would be foolhardy and, perhaps, as he is the rightful owner then he may resist this darkness which lays upon it; for it seems it must be tainted in some way due to it resting in the breast of Smaug. During their meeting, Gandalf also discusses the spirit they have encountered on a number of occasions, the latest while escorting the Lady Irimë. After the companions have shared their experiences, the wizard shares with them an interesting tale:

“Many years ago I myself dared to pass the doors of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur for the second time, to secretly explore his ways. What I discovered in that occasion is not a matter that I will discuss here, but suffice it to say that I found the place to be even darker and oppressive than before. It seemed to me that a new power had allied itself with the Necromancer, and ruled the deeper pits of Dol Guldur.”

“It was there that I found Thráin, the father of Thorin Oakenshield, wandering witless and near death in the blackest dungeons. I came too late, and he died before I could help him, but with his last words he uttered the name of his gaoler and tormentor: the Gibbet King.”

“I fled that accursed place before the Necromancer could spy my presence, but I knew that my visit didn’t go unnoticed. I felt the eyes of that dreadful lord of prisons upon me. The Gibbet King saw me, but seemed content to let me go.”


After Gandalf leaves the companions attend the Masked Ball, mingling with the other guests.

The next couple of days are spent enjoying the festivities; Brand fails to retain his title in the archery contest, the elf-maid Galia succeeding at beating all those taking part. However, Thogrim is victorious in the Grand Melee, besting Elstan of Dale in the final duel but wounding him in the process, much to the dismay of the spectators.

The end to the day of celebrations and competitions is marked by the Warrior’s Feast, where drink and food are consumed and prizes won are to be awarded to the victors in archery, strength, horsemanship and combat. With the event in full swing the rich merchant Lockmand, wearing his mask from the previous ball, theatrically presents the prizes. Bags of gold are presented to some but for the winner of the Grand Melee, Thogrim, a chest of gold is to be gifted. Approaching the chest, the proud dwarf awaits his prize, only to be showered by the merchant in streams of ribbon and screams as snakes wrap around Lockmand’s forearms!

Chaos descends and it quickly becomes apparent that only those with the hardiest of constitutions have not been poisoned due to the tainted ale and wine being served at the feast. Unmasked, it is clear the Lockmand is actually Bard’s jester Harrod; questioned, he states that he was asked by Lockmand to impersonate him and play a joke on the winner of the Great Melee. He was supposed to appear after the ribbons had been thrown into the air. Further investigations by Brand, questioning the cooks and servants, points solely to Lockmand and his personal servants – a number of burly looking men with a foreign disposition.

Unable to track them down, the companions search Lockmand’s room at the inn he was staying in and find samples of the poison and a strange coin laying under the bed; likely dropped in his rush to leave. Afterwards, they see that everything is order and rest, ready to report to Bard in the morning.

By the next morning, Dale is afire with wild rumour. Tales of invasions, curses and poison are on everyone’s lips. These rumours are far from quelled when Ravens of the Mountain arrive in Dale and announce to the citizens that an enemy force of orcs, goblins and wild wolves march upon the city from Mirkwood and through the lands to the south. At the Royal Council the companions are charged with leading a small force of a dozen King’s Guard, all that are able to currently ride, to bolster the small garrison at Celduin Crossing.

Without delay they are provisioned and given horses for the journey south. Only pausing to camp at night, the companions and the dozen King’s Guard led by their sergeant, Thorald, ride hard and in haste towards the village of Celduin Crossing.

Close to their destination, the companions scout a number of orcs fishing, arguing and also overhearing mention of their leader “Old Clegg” and other orc parties on this side of the river; their plan is to attack Celduin Crossing from the north while the army assaults the bridge. Knowing they cannot track all the orc patrols, the companions at least ambush these; killing them all quickly and without losses they decide to ride south overnight in order to reach the village sooner.

LM Notes
There were some nice elements to this first part of the adventure; Brand testing himself against Galia again was a nice continuous from the last Festival. I have this every five years in my campaign as each year seems too much of a push considering the distances and scale of Wilderland. Thogrim besting Elstan was also fun; he beat him but wounded him in the process so I made it so the crowd thought he was being cruel and violent in his attack on their well-respected captain.

The feast and betrayal went pretty well and I got to employ my additional houserules around a character's Vigour trait when resisting the effects of the poisoned wine. During this scene I also introduced a couple of well-to-do Hobbit cooks that were responsible for the food at the feast. Questioned by Brand, in service of the King, their nervous and worried answers and overly helpful natures were first viewed with suspicion by the player-heroes; resulting in some amusing back-and-forth discussions.

Throwing in the orc patrol, I mentioned "Old Clegg" as a title the orcs use for the Gibbet King. Not that the players have worked this out; they assumed they were discussing an orc champion/leader of some kind!

Next: The Crossings of Celduin, Battle at Celduin Crossing
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:57 pm

Adventuring Phase (Part Two): The Crossings of Celduin, Battle at Celduin Crossing
Autumn 2951
As the company approaches the Crossings of Celduin, even from a distance they can make out its narrow stone bridge arching across the river and a town sitting on its northern bank, with houses clustered around a fortified tollgate built at the end of the bridge. Brand and Sergeant Thorald present themselves to the master of Celduin; a crotchety, half-blind old man named Erik, son of Erland. He is led by two young maidens of about twelve years of age, Erik’s twin granddaughters Eydis and Erna.

Erik cares nothing for Dale and dismisses Brand’s claims of the invading army at first. Difficult words are exchanged but, begrudgingly, Erik agrees that the companions and their accompanying guard may aid the village; placing the defence of Celduin in the hands of the company but expecting to be rewarded by Bard himself for such support in his “young kingdom’s hour of need!”

The companions and King’s Guard inspect the defences of Celduin Crossing; the tollgate garrison add another dozen lightly-armed soldiers to their ranks and a handful of other fighting men from the village can be used if the situation becomes desperate.

The company train the garrison guard, while Thogrim organises the placement of barricades along the bridge to slow the advancing force; in their haste forgetting to repair the old rusted gates of the tollhouse. Along with two of the King’s Guard, Iwgar scouts across the western bank, ascertaining the size and elements of the invading force and in an attempt to break the army before the battle, Brand suggests that he and some of the Celduin’s archers could secrete themselves in one of the buildings across the river and attempt to kill their leader, should he be an obvious target, and return by river raft afterwards. Agreeing but concerned as to the great risk, the companions and their allies wait for the inevitable advance of the orc army.

The Battle Begins
The enemy reaches the River Running on the second day after the companions reach Celduin Crossing. The sun sets over the Mountains of Mirkwood, falling into the shadowy embrace of the forest and the few brave defenders prepare for the enemy assault. From across the river to the south, the companions hear the howling of wolves and shouts of orcs and goblins.

Brand takes two rafts across the river, accompanied by five archers; they take up places within one of the outbuildings across the river, stripped bare when fortifying the bridge with barricades.

Armed with bows, the remaining seven garrison guard take up positions on the tollhouse roof and upper floor. Sergeant Thorald leads five of his men to the northern buildings in the village to repel any attack that may come from the orc scouting parties that had reached the eastern bank of the River Running. The five remaining King’s Guard defend the portcullis, from the town side, their long spears best used here to resist any direct assaults. Finally, Thogrim, Grimbold and Iwgar elect to take up a position at the last barricade just in front of the raised portcullis; here they will attempt to resist the first attacks from across the bridge supported by the archers above.

The First Assault
A host of Orcs and Wargs comes first, with the smaller goblins riding upon the bigger Wolves and scrambling down the valley slope towards the bridge. Their leader stops ahead of the bridge, protected with a tall Barding shield defaced by bloody smears, and demands the village’s surrender. It is then that Brand and his men unleash their ambush but unfortunately, they fail to slay the orc chieftain; pursued by wolves they flee back across the river but only bard and two men succeed, the other raft of men are assailed by wargs and goblins before they can escape the western bank.

The battle is ferocious and brutal as the orcs attack the bridge. Cut down by volleys of arrows from the archers at the tollhouse they advance upon the open portcullis and companions, ripping apart the barricades as they go. Finally, the chieftain and a number of orcs and wargs fall upon the three companions; the heroes stand firm and slay their attackers, Thogrim killing the chieftain and the warg he was riding, and take this moment to fall back and quickly lower the portcullis.

Desire for revenge spurs on the warband, and they scale the walls of the tollhouse and throw themselves upon the portcullis in reckless abandon. The fighting is brutal and chaotic but the defenders hold and repel the attack, breaking their enemy and driving them away, albeit at a cost to their own. After the battle they gather themselves, Sergeant Thorald returning with three of his men still able to fight but the orc scouts having been killed or routed.

The Second Assault
As the defenders rest, Thogrim and the black smith Ped repair the rusted gates of the tollhouse and bar them shut, allowing the remaining forces to bolster their defences elsewhere.

Four hours after the first wave, in the black of night, a monster over ten feet tall lumbers silently into view. The creature seems covered by thick scales, and carries a black buckler in one knotted hand and a heavy hammer in the other. Spurred on by accompanying goblins the troll bellows thunderously and charges towards the bridge, raising its titanic weapon to smash the tollhouse gate down. The arrows of the defenders simply bounce off the creature as its hammer smashes into the newly repaired gate; incredibly it shivers but does not yield. Roaring with rage as further arrow fly, some finding their mark, the gate this time yields; splitting as it is cleaved in two. The troll charges forward, smashing apart the portcullis as the companions stand against its assault.

Bravely, Grimbold challenges the huge troll, allowing his companions to focus on attacking rather than defending; however, they are eventually beset by goblins who spill through the broken gate, some met by Sergeant Thorald and his men. No quarter is given by either side and the bellows of the troll are punctuated by screams of goblins and the shouts of men. Grimbold is struck by a fatal blow but not before grievously hurting the troll; Thogrim, Iwgar and Brand driven on by their friends sacrifice vanquish the monster and the assault is routed, its goblins fleeing into the night.

The Last Day
The next day dawns with a pale grey light, and grim clouds hang low over the town. There is an air of impending doom and the joy of the victories of the previous night melts away when the townsfolk see the damage and the carnage in the full light of day. Worse, to the south, the company can see the enemy army approaching.

Honouring their fallen, Iwgar says a few words over Grimbold as they lay him within an empty house and takes the dagger of Lady Irimë to return to his wife. The villagers tend to the injured and clear the enemy’s dead as best they can while they decide what should be done; the tollhouse gate is broken beyond repair and the coming force will be free to enter across the bridge. Resolved to his fate, Brand suggests his friends may leave with the villagers should they wish to do so; Thogrim and Iwgar reject his offer without pause stating their fate will be shared whatever may fall on this day. Surrounded by Sergeant Thorald and only a handful of able King’s Guard and other men, they all swear to fight to their last.

The day is spent in grim silence and harder tasks but as the light fades a raven is spotted flying from the north, only to be struck down by a hail of goblin arrows from across the river; a scroll of paper falling from it towards the river.

While Brand retrieves the scroll, Thogrim cares for the Raven but there is nothing he can do. Cradling the broken creature in his hands it speaks its last words: “I am Korun, son of Roäc. I have at last reached the end of my days. Listen to my counsel for a foresight is on me! Fight the shadow with fire or water. Take heed!”

Brand reads the scroll and his heart fills with hope at the words written in the hand of Bard himself: “Dale marches south with Esgaroth and the Dwarves of the Mountain! Hold the river through the night. At dawn, look to the North.”

Meanwhile, Iwgar tends one of the fallen men of the Celduin, Beoric; poisoned by a goblin knife he breathes his last.

Thorgim takes the dead Raven of the Mountain, Korun, and laying him at Grimbold’s side only for the Beornings to wake again, a sickly light falling upon him as his corpse stirs and an unnatural light blooms in Grimbold’s dead eyes. His cold lips part as a lifeless voice emerges as the Gibbet King addresses Thogrim: “Fools! You think Bard the Bowman is coming to save you? Dale is afire, abandoned by Elf and Dwarf alike. No help is coming to you. No hope is left to you. Yield!”

Thogrim battles against the will of the Gibbet King alone and as his strength begins to fail he is joined by both Brand and Iwgar. Hearing the words of the fell spirit they reject his lies, standing together and proclaiming it is he and his schemes that will fail before the dawn. Challenged, the spirit flees, preparing his forces for the final assault.

The companions’ attention is then turned to a commotion outside; Erik has gathered the villagers and demands that they leave to be escorted to safer lands. Brand requests to speak to the villagers directly and Erik does not refuse such a courteous request. The Barding sways the crowd with his wise and inspiring words and Erik himself apologises to the Brand for doubting his bravery and intentions and those accompanying him. They clasp hands as a force of cavalry ride into the village from the north; an advance guard of the King’s Men, led by Captain Elstan; they have journeyed hard and through the night and day and they bring news that Bard brings an army from the north if they can but hold the Celduin through the night!

With this news and unexpected relief, the companions, soldiers and villagers cheer as hope of survival, and perhaps even victory, is kindled in their hearts.

The Final Assault
In the light of hundreds of torches, an army of Orcs swarms across the bridge but are met by the brave defenders bolstered by the arrival of Elstan and his men. The battle is desperate and then in the wavering light, the companions see a wooden cart, drawn by a pair of black horses. On the cart stands an iron cage, a gibbet containing a rotting human corpse, little more than a skeleton held together with blackened sinews and rags. The same unholy light that was in the fallen Grimbold’s eyes dances in the skeleton’s eye-sockets.

Uttering dark sorceries, he assails the companions but they rally against the tide of shadow, Thogrim and Iwgar charging the cart of the Gibbet King as it makes its way along the war-torn bridge. Defeating its guard, Iwgar climbs the cart while Thogrim fights off a number of orcs. Resisting the fear that washes over him like a wave, he raises the ancient dagger given to Grimbold by the elf-maiden Irimë and plunges it into the breast of the corpse. Hearing or feeling a scream somewhere between pain and anger, the corpse breaks upon the dagger which in turn burns and melts, driving Iwgar back so he falls from the cart.

His army feeling the spirit leave them break, quickly losing their discipline; skirmishes are fought against those of stronger will but the battle turns in favour of those defending the Celduin Crossing. It is then that King Bard arrives on the morning after this second night of battle. His host crosses the bridge at the Crossings amid the cheers of the exhausted villagers, and falls upon the Orcs. Warriors from Dale, archers from Lake-town and many stout dwarven warriors from the Mountain utterly crush the enemy and win a glorious victory.

The next day ends with funerals for their fallen comrades and the Master of the Celduin, bending his knee before a victorious king and his allies.

LM Notes
Phew, bit of a long post! Apologies, so much happened that I couldn't really condense it without losing key bits.

This was a great adventure, with lots of opportunities for LMs to add lots of elements to personalise for their campaign while keeping to the main plot/write-up of the adventure.

I felt it was more realistic to at least have some soldiers of Dale that were still able bodied in order to travel south with the player-characters so introduced the dozen king's guard to the scenario as a resource for the PCs to use, etc. As they were planning their defense, I used my Battle Maps idea again. This time working with an initial version that showed the players the key elements of the bridge and tollhouse, as below:

Image

Once the PCs had decided what to do, etc I then produced another containing additional information in order to manage the battle and give the players prompts/reminders so they didn't forget important details:

Image

I had some dead wood to get rid of as a player could no longer make the game, so decided to have the former player-character, Grimbold, killed by the Troll once it had breached the tollhouse, this had the added bonus of bringing the dagger of Irimë into possession of the remaining PCs. Iwgar's player rolled well on the attack and his Valour roll when storming the cart so felt it was appropriate that the ancient blade could banish the Gibbet King within the scenario in the same way that burning or dropping the cart into the river could. In fact, I may take it further and reduce his attributes in some way for the next adventure; perhaps a loss of some Hate would be fitting... ?

The battle really was prolonged yet extremely intense so worked well. Interspersed with various interactions really helped and made for an engaging few nights of gaming; especially the interaction with the Gibbet King and Brand winning over the villager and their leader with an inspiring and persuasive speech (he rolled a 'G' along with a couple of tengwars).

Next: The Watch on the Heath
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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Rich H
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:01 pm

One final post/adventure and that's it. Wonder how my players and their PCs will get on with what is an incredibly dangerous scenario... :?
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

Glorelendil
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Glorelendil » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:35 pm

Rich H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 am
Any thoughts on my campaign, Glor? Happy to provide further input/insight if you or others need it. I'm going to split the Crossings of Celduin into two parts; it's such an epic adventure.
Just realized I never responded to this question. I've been popping in on this thread but I actually want to re-read the whole thing in its entirety before attempting to answer in a useful way. In general I love your updates.
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:38 pm

Glorelendil wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:35 pm
Rich H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 am
Any thoughts on my campaign, Glor? Happy to provide further input/insight if you or others need it. I'm going to split the Crossings of Celduin into two parts; it's such an epic adventure.
Just realized I never responded to this question. I've been popping in on this thread but I actually want to re-read the whole thing in its entirety before attempting to answer in a useful way. In general I love your updates.
Cool!

Just a head's up on reading over it. I am going to PDF the updates, collecting them all up. Will do this just after the last "Watch on the Heath" post. Will put up a dropbox link of the PDF.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

Glorelendil
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Glorelendil » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:36 pm

Rich H wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:38 pm
Glorelendil wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:35 pm
Rich H wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:48 am
Any thoughts on my campaign, Glor? Happy to provide further input/insight if you or others need it. I'm going to split the Crossings of Celduin into two parts; it's such an epic adventure.
Just realized I never responded to this question. I've been popping in on this thread but I actually want to re-read the whole thing in its entirety before attempting to answer in a useful way. In general I love your updates.
Cool!

Just a head's up on reading over it. I am going to PDF the updates, collecting them all up. Will do this just after the last "Watch on the Heath" post. Will put up a dropbox link of the PDF.
Oh, great. I'll look forward to that.
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Varon » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:54 pm

Wow, that was quite an epic battle at Celduin. I was really glad to see how it happened, because reading through it initially seemed really intense. Wasn’t sure how well characters might handle it, but it seemed to go well.
Company of the Seven Stars: viewtopic.php?f=60&t=10326

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Rich H
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Re: [Tale of Years] The Fellowship of the Free (Spoilers)

Post by Rich H » Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:31 pm

Varon wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:54 pm
Wow, that was quite an epic battle at Celduin. I was really glad to see how it happened, because reading through it initially seemed really intense. Wasn’t sure how well characters might handle it, but it seemed to go well.
You're right, it was intense so I'm glad that has come across in my write-ups; great fun aswell! It's certainly dangerous and high stakes, although I'm more concerned about the final adventure.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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