(I am endebted to @EnohIO who leant me their session notes, allowing me to not forget much of the fun).
We continue on from our previous endeavours!
With everything loaded back into their horse-drawn cart, and with cats and a pig in tow, we’re off for our Town Phase!
Whilst Bricks’ maps are great, and we are on map, the troll in the forest through which they need to travel means that they cannot just “fast travel”.
Still, Bricks knows what they are doing (and does not take a scenic route), so we reach Osric’s (nearby) home town of Holtburg without incident.
He’s not been back in about 8 years, not since The Incident.
Sidebar: The Incident
These are Gott lands, and Osric’s family are Græling, who own/run a local stables in this Busy Crossroads. The local (over)lord was Lord Thorismund, who took over once the Bjorning had been kicked out.
At the time of the incident, Lord Thorismund’s son, Roderic, “was a proper shortarse”, to quote Osric. Both were of a similar age (around… 11 years old, or so?).
Due to Roderic’s (lack of) stature, Osric acted as a human step ladder for the young lord to climb onto a horse.
On one occasion, young lord Roderic was unable to climb up successfully, and blamed the horse, beginning to beat it. Osric lost his temper, and current Osric (the violent one) took over, beating lord Roderic to unconsciousness / death (?). He’s not sure which, as that’s when his mother Oswynn finds him, and convinces him to flee immediately.
This is the first time he has been back since. So… some tensions, right?
Back to our story.
I apply a -1 to the Town Events roll, due to Nearby Dragon(s), so we get a Market Glut of paper (rather than a Wedding… although I might revisit that later - see further below). At present, the adventurers are not much in need of paper or spellbooks, but, we’ll see. This lot tend to get creative.
So, where’s everyone staying?
Osric immediately opts to hide in the stables at his parents (to avoid scrutiny), and the player then succeeds at the roll to Not Be Found (it’s 50/50, as he’s Level 6, going on 7).
The others are happy enough to stay in a local flophouse, and we get to working out our plans for this Town Phase.
Tösk is very keen to return the regalia plough from last session to the barrow wight’s descendents.
One (very successful) Circles test later, they have met Piers, a steward to the local lord, who is very grateful to have an item of his clan’s regalia back.
Tösk name drops Osric a lot, and takes every opportunity to big up his companion.
Piers, meanwhile, is so grateful that he will happily bring the party to the court to meet his lord at some point during their stay in Holtburg!
We (as players) really want to see how things go down with Osric and his family.
But let’s deal with any shopping first, in case what happens with Osric means we need to skip town…
We end up cutting between these quite a bit, which keeps us all engaged.
From my side, as the GM, I’ve got what the player set as Osric’s backstory, which I want to deliver on.
However, I also don’t want to go too far overboard, as he’s already got a decent enemy, and choosing to make the local Gott lord of his home town also an enemy feels a bit rude.
So… let’s see where this goes (some ideas, and some “winging it as I go” now follow).
His parents are overjoyed to see him, worried about how he’s been, and there to update him with (some of) what’s happened since he skipped town.
Lord Thorismund is dead, and his son is now Lord Roderic in his own right.
“How did Thorismund die? Tell me all the details, especially if it’s funny!”
It seems he tripped and fell down the stairs in the dark. A funny enough story, from Osric’s perspective.
Lord Roderic survived the beating Osric gave him, but both of his legs had to be amputated above the knee. For a horse-riding Gott, this is… not great.
However, his parents have suffered no particular consequence for what happened to Lord Roderick. It seems he covered for them / lied to everyone else about the events. Still, he does still occasionally check in with them as to whether they have seen Osric…
And as for Lord Roderick? About the same as his father, maybe slightly better. For the Græling here, it’s much of a muchness.
Lord Roderick is engaged to be married to another Gott, who should be arriving very soon for the wedding.
Oddbjorn is happy to haggle at the market, whilst everyone else has a wishlist of what they want him to buy for the group (although it does get split out a bit).
They scour through what they need for their journey south (to the Sakki Downs and the Hendri caravan that was Bricks’ home, before their own particular Inciting Incident).
Due to Oddbjorn’s good (haggling) fortune, he’s able to trade in a (3D) bracelet for double its worth, and buy a tun of wine (Ob 5!), to keep his apprentice happy, and the party watered (or “wined”, I guess). Given Bricks’ aversion to drinking “ground water”, this is very welcome.
Tösk suggests that they also acquire an empty tun to stick on their cart (alongside the win tun), to act as a rain barrel. Good plan!
They also need a sack of flour and cheese (no more “apple and eel surprise” or “apple and salt soup”), as well as large quantities of refined lantern oil.
Flour and cheese are easy enough to acquire, although after Bricks buys the cheese,they realise that their (magical) family compass has been stolen (Twist)!
Bricks and Tösk are going to get that compass back, and chase after it.
They see the thief head into a temple. Just before the thief places the compass on the altar as an offering, Tösk uses Aetheric Appendage to scoop it away and to him.
The thief glares at them, and, once they head outside, Tösk and Bricks have a terse conversation with him… and his newly arrived two companions (as they wait for the thief to arrive, they realise that this was a temple to Hyresti, Lord of Mercy).
The thief claims it was an offering for mercy for his (dying) daughter (a lie, but it’s something in that ballpark). Bricks counters that they know a healer, and that they should have asked for help instead. Both sides walk away, although looks continue to be exchanged.
As for lantern oil?
Well, Oddbjorn fails the Resources check to buy the first lot.
So, I Twist: there’s a (new-ish) law in Holtburg that oil cannot be sold to “outsiders”. Given that Lord Roderick’s father died falling down the stair in the dark, this is now considered a precious resource, and most of it goes to the lord.
(It’s lovely when things start to interweave).
What to do for the oil the group needs? Osric’s parents are right there, and proclaim themselves eager to get oil for the group.
It is clear, however, that it will be a huge financial stretch for them, and that they might end up in a precarious pecuniary position.
Not that they would say that, or let the group know: this is the first time they have seen their son in 8 years, and they want to help however they can.
Osric, though, is not planning on letting the group forget to settle up on that front.
Back with Osric, he tells them he will go to the court, and then has to argue with his father (Ælfric), who insists that he will take responsibility for his son’s actions (as Ælfric wants to help his son). Osric is able to convince him not to do so.
Eventually, Osric and his parents have caught up with one another enough, and settled matters betweebn them such that Osric brings in Oddbjorn and Radulf, who have been waiting patiently outside. Oddbjorn (with Radulf’s assistance) tell Osric’s parents of the group’s (many!) deeds and adventures, reassuring them of the good company Osric is in, and the great deeds they are achieving.
Tösk and Bricks arrive shortly thereafter, and there is much catching up between them all.
Osric then looks to convince the local priests to set up a shrine to Halja, as the price to be paid for the protection that Halja will grant them from the dragon (a callback to Osric’s bargain with Halja, a number of sessions ago).
To do so, he (fails to) Circle a priestess… a formidable Mother Superior-type who remembers him of old, and realises that only part of Osric’s soul is there, which strikes fear into Osric’s heart (succeed with Condition: Afraid) .
The Priestess agrees to put the shrine in place, as he’d circled her with “Loyal to the Cause” attitude.
Bricks then creates a modified map for the town, showing them what dangerous areas around Regin and Bornstokk that they must avoid, to keep safe from Æglæckír.
It’s a real struggle, given Bricks’ Creed of keeping all paths open, but they eventually justify it to themselves as keeping both the townsfolk and drake egg safe (Protecting Nature).
Oddbjorn does research in the various priestly / town records / histories to find out what he can of Lord Roderick and, more importantly, Lord Roderick’s potential wife. The plan is to find things that will grant them an edge in their meeting with the lord, something to help smooth things over.
It seems that they are both of a same age and precedence. This is to help shore up Gott rule of the area, and her coming to Holtburg will also prevent any succession issues between her and her (older) brother who stands to inherit “back home”. Her mother died recently, so she will be very pleased to find a (brand new!) shrine to Halja here in Holtburg.
There is then a sequence of “gearing up” activities, as Tösk waterproofs a satchel using the eel skin from Andvarri and Bricks puts Holtburg on their map.
Bricks also makes a wrist-holder for their Sun Stone, whilst Osric crafts a strap to hold Bricks’ shield and spear together when outside of battle.
When Tösk fails to scribe a scroll, he is interrupted by the thieves, who want their injured friend healed. They end up taking Oddbjorn with them, who promises to help and, indeed, does heal the stab wound.
On his return, Oddbjorn then heads down to the tavern to sing of the glories of the dragon Monwír, as per his promise to spread that history. What a guy!
Finally, we head into the court itself, where they see Lord Roderick in his throne. False legs are attached to the front of the throne, to (somewhat) conceal the lord’s injury.
Oddbjorn has been waiting to perform in front of the court, laying out in glorious song, the full story of their adventure with Æglæckír, Monwír, the Tree of Yðunn, Hreithmarr and Andvarri. He does not shy away from the less glorious parts, or his fears and failures (Creed: Our names will be sung, so our deeds must match in glory and fame).
It is a masterful performance, into which he threw in his Shaky Hands Trait as a positive, to show the fear that overcame him at various points of the adventure.
Now, though, comes the final challenge: the meeting between Osric and Lord Roderick.
We’ll find out on Friday how that goes!