AP: the Tree of Yðunn - into the Darkness

We played again on Friday night, and this write-up follows on directly from last week’s session.

I had chosen to wear my Torchbearer Barrow Wight t-shirt, which, as you will see, came in handy later on this session.

Osric’s player could not make the game, but the rest of us pressed on.

No Osric also meant that several people rejigged their Goals to be more workable for the session.

Bricks still has a drake egg from long ago, which still has not hatched, and one of the their reccuring thoughts during this adventure has been to ask the dragon for parenting tips.

However, in the end, other goals win out.

Our party remains:

  • Bricks the Boots (Halfling Guide)

Belief: As a Hendri and a Guide, I will not hesitate to forge the path needed, nor make the lost found.

Creed: Right to Roam: all have a right to walk paths and they must remain open. Paths write our stories and history into the land. To lose them is to lose a part of ourself. To destroy them is to cast away our history. They must be walked to preserve them and they must remain open.

Goal: Routes have been sealed, and the history of the Dwarves lost with it. Find out what happened here and put it back on the map.

  • Oddbjorn Bjornson (Bjorning Skald)

Belief: I will get my inheritance from the treasures lurking in the old places of the world.

Creed: Our names will be sung, so our deeds must match in glory and fame.

Goal: Discover something revealing abou the dragon in the ruins.

  • Osric Godtouched (Græling Shaman)

Belief: I will be more than the beast within me.

Creed: Only the Jotunn can give true power, mortal power is a pale, fleeting imitation.

Goal: Redeem myself in the eyes of Holtburg.

  • Tösk (Changeling Thief - played by @DaveHiggins, of this parish)

Belief: Ancient Secrets are more important than coin.

Creed: All living beings have an equal right to thrive.

Goal: I will discover what the Red Sun is.

It turned out to be an interesting session to miss.

After some discussion, and organising of what they were taking with them, Oddbjorn, Bricks, Tösk and Radulf (Oddbjorn’s apprentice) head upwards.

They’re on Bricks’ map for this part, so the clambering up the cliff is “on map”. There’s then some careful checking around the secret door they’ve found, making sure that they can open it from the inside, before they start to press on.

However, this… room / chamber between the secret door and the main stairs up (and back into daylight)… there’s an amount of clutter, and we have curious characters.

They hunt around and discover that whoever cleared the area through (between the stairs and the secret door) simply swept everything to one side… accidentally covering a trap door!

So, having climbed up, with an idea of starting at the top, our adventurers are now heading down instead.

A while later, they realise they are on the hidden stairs that Osric and Tösk fell through to last week. This helps them orient themselves a bit, as they head further down.

They emerge in part of what must have been the grand entrance hall of the old dwarven hold. The main hold is fully blocked up by collapses, and the way towards the entrance itself is full of heavy multi-ton rocks to potentially wriggle around.

They spend some time deciphering the runes and carvings that they can see / excavate, to get some further insights into what the hold was like 400 years ago, seeing a carving of the Tree of Yðunn, showing it as being further in.

The party remains keen to find another way through and, given the number of secret doors / passages they have found, they start digging around here.

Only for a cracked stone slab to collapse beneath them all, tipping them down yet another winding staircase (Failed Scout, Twist to send them crashing down).

Oddbjorn is injured, whereas the others manage to prevent things going so bad for them.

Still, down is down, and they are going to follow this onward and downwards.

At the bottom is a finely finished stone wall, with an actual wooden door inset within it.

Choosing to be cautious, Tösk listens closely at it, to discover what might lie beyond (Thief Level 4 - Good Ear). It’s a fine idea, but, this time, it does not work out for him (failed Scout test).

As he listens, the door swings open, he is pulled into the darkness beyond, and the door slams again!

Oddbjorn quickly refills his lantern, and then knocks on the door, asking for their friend back.

Bricks, meanwhile, (wisely) decides that they don’t trust whatever lies beyond. They brace their spear horizontally across the doorway, so they cannot be dragged in. When the door flings open again, Bricks is ready, and grabs hold of Oddbjorn, saving him from being dragged into the waiting darkness.

Radulf (Oddbjorn’s apprentice), however, is not so lucky, as no one grabs him, and something vanishes him into the darkness too. The door slams again immediately.

Our two remaining adventurers are more concerned, now.

Bricks ties themselves to their spear, which they are leaving braced across the doorway outside the room, in case they need to drag themselves out.

The two of them gird themselves, and then step in, lantern held high.

In the rectangular crypt beyond, they can see a sarcophagus and, just beyond stand Tösk and Radulf. Between these two, with a bony arm around each of their waists stands… an undead dwarf of sorts (a Barrow Wight, as will be revealed later).

They start with a conversation. Hreithmarr, this entity calls himself (“Perhaps you have heard of me?” - they had not).

He was once a dwarf whose great-great-grandfather was the last dwarven king of this hold, when the dragon-attack brought the place low. Two centuries after the fall of the hold, he and his companion sought to kill the two dragons (yes, dragon in the plural, a new discovery for our party), and recapture the hall.

This, as is clear, did not happen, although Hreithmarr assures them that one is dying.

The party is in a light bantery mood, but then Hreithmarr breathes in, as if slurping soup, and both Radulf and Tösk pale (and become Sick, as the Barrow Wight’s Draining Souls Descriptor comes into play - a vs. Test between Tösk and Hreithmarr, where Hreithmarr’s Might is the deciding factor).

Bricks meanwhile, has quietly eased out their (last) flask of holy water in one hand, and one of their fireworks in the other, both remain concealed behind their back.

Bricks then also decides to assess what they are facing (Hunter vs. Hreithmarr’s Nature), and (with some help from the others) succeeds admirably. They now know Hreithmarr’s Might (5), Descriptors (Slaying, Draining Souls, Hiding in Darkness), and that those slain by Hreithmarr would rise up as Barrow Wights themselves…

Oddbjorn and Tösk are trying to find if there’s any grounds for negotiation between them and Hreithmarr (for the release of Tösk and Radulf), but Hreithmarr’s opening stance of wanting the dragons slain is… not currently going to fly with this group.

The players confer, working out what they want to do. Is it Flee, is it Kill? Is there an alternate Convince / Negotiation angle that they can go with?

The players settle on a Kill Conflict, but in order to achieve that against a Might 5 opponent, they’ll have to line everything up.

Tösk has a scroll of Destiny of Heroes on him, which (whilst very difficult) would push their Might up to being able to achieve their aim. In addition, he’s Sick, which feels like a risk factor.

Oddbjorn is Injured, which could easily kill him in a Kill Conflict with Hreithmarr.

Additionally, they have only a few turns of light left, and will become Hungry & Thirsty on the same turn as the last turn of light.

It’s going to be tight, and involve lining up several things that have to go right.

In character now, Bricks subtly indicates to Tösk the firework in their hand.

Oddbjorn Grits his Teeth to shrug off Injured, and Tösk Sweats Out the Fever.

Characters sheets are duly handed over to me, and I lower Tösk’s Manipulator from 5 to 4 and Oddbjorn’s Health from 4 to 3, also wiping out those hard-earned checks.

Then, Bricks needs to set that firework off, not as a weapon, but to provide a distraction for Tösk to pluck out the scroll and cast Destiny of Heroes, as well as enable every to surge into combat.

I forget what skill I call for from Bricks, but they nail it.

Tösk (with Oddbjorn’s Spell-Wise and Bricks’ assistance) manages to claw out the Ob 5 Arcanist test required, and we’re about to launch into our Conflict.

Then Oddbjorn’s player has an inspired plan: he calls on their Vættr, Halja, Queen of the Dead, through the Regalia he carries: his sword.

It’s great, but not a Good Idea, so the player reaches for the dice. A Ritualist Ob 3 check just as you engage with that which your Vættr opposes? Sounds good.

Help is offered, but the player is adament: this is a solo effort - Oddbjorn has not discussed this with anyone, and it is coming spur-of-the-moment from within.

He succeeds, and they all feel Halja’s presence through them, helping them in this struggle.

Now, Destiny of Heroes (Dungeoneer’s p193) should only last a Turn, but this feels OK, so I hand wave away that problem, and we enter our Kill Conflict.

I would note that, because of their timings, and this extra (unexpected) Turn, they gain Hungry & Thirsty as the Conflict starts, and this is their last turn of light… whilst trying to kill something with the Descriptor “Hiding in Darkness”.

If they don’t win, they will be plunged into darkness, and their enemy will be in his element.

Good luck, my friends!

Hreithmarr has Disposition 8.
The party has Disposition 9 (which include 1 going to Radulf for his help).

Hreithmarr equips his Cursed Sword.

Tösk draws Vali’s Dagger of Kin-Slaying.

Bricks has their last flask of holy water.

Oddbjorn has his sword, his Regalia of their Lith Band, dedicated to Halja.

It’s… tough, made more so as both Bricks and Oddbjorn are still wearing the backpack / 2-satchels, making their Fighter checks harder.

By the end of the first exchange, they manage to severely harm Hreithmarr, and Tösk has disarmed him of the Cursed Sword, although he did so by taking it in the gut and rolling with the force of the blow into a crumpled heap (Hreithmarr’s Feint vs. Tösk’s Manoeuvre, meaning that they were both Independent tests).

Throughout, the Help from Halja proves invaluable.

For the second exchange, Hreithmarr equips his Terrifying Aura, and the players have to script well. There’s some good tactical discussion about how they could try to lessen their risk (do you Feint, or is Attack better, as it beats Feint?).

In the end, Bricks is up first, and their Attack beat Hreithmarr’s Defend, eliminating the Barrow Wight from the Conflict.

The party is at 5 / 9 disposition: over half disposition, a critical point.

This could, very easily kill Tösk. But they have just beaten a Barrow Wight, in the presence of the Queen of the Dead, who, I would suggest, has some sway in that area.

I rule that it’s clear to all that this should have killed Tösk, but that Halja speaks a single word “No.”, and reaches through them all.

The force of the death blow is instead spread over all of them, injuring them all.

And then, the light goes out.

In the darkness, the party fumbles out a torch, and Bricks lights it with their (Regalia) tinder box.

Tösk immediately insists that they must hold a funeral for Hreithmarr, in line with their Lith Band’s aims.

By the light of a torch, all of them clutching their injuries, Tösk (successfully) leads the funeral, with Bricks’ help in Pathfinding, and Oddbjorn’s Music-Wise.

For their pains, they find a solitary precious gem.

They briefly walk down the corridor off of the crypt, to find the mooring and boat here, but, with all of them injured, and Radulf the apprentice sick and injured, they need to head back to camp.

They take the opportunity to drink from the river and refill their waterskins, before beginning the trudge back up to the top.

Now, when they reach the top, they are “on map”, as Bricks mapped the secret entrance and cliff face previously. However, as they are all injured, I rule that it’s not safe for them to simply traipse back down to their camp: the climb down is risky for them all in their condition.

There will be a roll, and that could very well mean death.

Bricks has a decent plan about getting the horse, and rigging up a way down, but the horse is down in the camp, and they are here on the cliff face.

Oddbjorn, for the second time this session Grits his Teeth to shrug off Injured. I lower his Health again. It has gone from 4 to 2 in a matter of hours.

Then, with a much more manageable Ob 1 Dungeoneering test, Oddbjorn is helped down, and goes to get the horse.

Then, with the horse’s help, they are able to rig up a system to lower everyone else down, using Oddbjorn’s Rider skill (and help, gear, etc.).

On the Conditions side, the tally is as follows:

  • Bricks: Angry, Exhausted, Injured
  • Tösk: Angry, Exhausted, Injured
  • Oddbjorn: Exhausted

They are on Turn 14, with twilight approaching, and could make camp, but with just 2 checks between them…

Well, that can be a problem for next week’s session, right?

On the Rewards side, Bricks’ decisive firework use and killing-blow on Hreithmarr means that they are awarded MVP, whilst Oddbjorn’s repeated sucking up wounds, and taking the risks earns him a well-deserved Team Worker.

I’m looking forwards to where they go next.

There’s more up, and more down (well… more underground river-and-boat nonsense, but that sounds about right).

They have defeated a Barrow Wight, discovered that they are to face 2 dragons, and gathered a bunch of Conditions.

Whatever they choose to do, it should be quite an adventure!


This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.