What would you do if your friend told you that you had to fight a 7-foot beefcake with a warhammer? Well, Darren was going to find out.
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Father Jeb Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
Last time, the guys went to go see the old aelfar shaman Speaks-With-Stars to get advice on how they could help their buddies the Selai-Thua fight off the savage Fihanna-Fimh, who are working with the Quiet Brothers. There was some spirit world mumbo-jumbo, and before they knew it, another clan had come a-knocking and told the Selai-Thua to get off the aelfar lands or they’d be killed. Jeb kindly “volunteered” John to fight the champion, Stone Bear. They stepped into the ring…
Now, the normal D&D rules aren’t actually that good for running a duel, so I went looking around and found these rules for duels in Pathfinder. Blocks, parries, dodges… it’s all there, and I hoped it would add a bit of cinematic flair to the fight. I explained the extra rules to Darryl, but we needn’t have bothered; the duel was over in a few dice rolls. Stone Bear fluffed his attack rolls, and Darryl landed two high damage hits that put the aelfar down. Well, that was anticlimactic.
While he’s bleeding in the dirt, Stone Bear notices the ceremonial knife that John’s carrying. His expression changes, and with his last ounce of strength, he shouts to the Biel-Tan warriors to kill everyone, saying that “they have the knife, they’re corrupted!”.
All hell breaks loose, but the guys take advantage of the confusion; the Biel-Tan warriors are still focused on the duel and they aren’t paying full attention. Magnus whips out a bag of sand with his ever-useful always prepared ability, hurls it into the face of the Biel-Tan guarding him, then wrestles him to the ground. Jeb takes the more direct approach by blasting a Biel-Tan brave in the back with an incendiary shell from his shotgun, setting fire to the unsuspecting aelfar. John grabs his guns from the Selai-Thua aelfar who’d been holding onto them, and starts doing what he does best.
While Magnus and one of the Biel-Tan hunters wrestle around in the dirt, punching and stabbing each other, Jeb gets chopped up badly by one of the braves. He expends a Destiny point to stay on his feet, and blasts the brave with his eye for an eye ability, doing a chunk of damage and temporarily weakening his attacker. The other Biel-Tan hunters start shooting the fleeing Selai-Thua village people, until Night Hawk and his warriors pitch in, and with their help and John’s usual knack for death-dealing, the Biel-Tan are all killed.
Night Hawk is less than pleased about the deaths of both his people and the Biel-Tan. He orders that the bodies be prepared for burial, and retreats to his tent, claiming that he needs to meditate on the events of the day. The guys tend to their wounds, but there’s a real tension in the village towards them now; gone is the sense of hospitality and friendliness.
At sunset, the clan take the bodies of their dead and the Biel-Tan down to the shores of Spirit Lake; in a mutual bit of world-building, we decide that their funeral rites are Viking-esque; bodies set adrift in boats and hit with fiery arrows, that kind of thing. Night Hawk is acting very moody, and implies to the group that the deaths are their fault.
“I warned you that attempting to unite the clans was doomed, and see what has become of you ignoring my words. You have done nothing but bring bad luck on us since your arrival. Killing the Biel-Tan has only made matters worse; who knows if there are other clans who share the Fihanna-Fimh’s madness, who will want revenge against us? We cannot fight them all. We must leave the village of our ancestors and find a new home. It pains me to say it, but I want you all gone from our lands by sunrise.”
He and the rest of the clan walk off, leaving Jeb and the Dwytes by the shore of the lake. The mood is grim; John is taking the failure personally and doesn’t want to abandon the aelfar to their fate, but Magnus and Jeb are of a more what-can-you-do mindset and seem more inclined to go back into town and keep investigating the Red Brands and Quiet Brothers.
(Personally, I wanted them to go back into town. Out-of-character, I held up my hands to them all and told them that I was totally at a deadend with the whole aelfar clan sub-plot and had no satisfying way of continuing with it. Thankfully that tipped the scales; sometimes it’s better just to be honest with your players, admit you’ve mucked up a bit, and reach a mutual agreement on how to proceed)
They head back to the village and collect their stuff. There’s an awkward goodbye between them and Night Hawk, and a scout leads them back to the edge of the aelfar forest and in sight of Tributary Falls. The group head back into town, and Jeb pulls some strings with the priest at the local church to secure free accommodation while they discuss their next move.
At least, back in human territory, they have a clear enemy; the Red Brands! None of this faffing about in the forests with tomahawk-wielding elves, they know where the local gang is hiding out, and they know that if they put the squeeze on, they could probably find out where they can find a Quiet Brother; then it’s just a case of following the trail until they reach the head honcho. They come up with a plan to storm the warehouse the local gang had claimed (where they rescued Smiling Cat from) and just go on a roaring rampage of revenge. In preparation, Jeb goes out into town and buys some sticks of dynamite. This can only end well.
They head down to the docks and do a bit of recon on the warehouse. There’s only four Red Brands inside, drinking and dicing. Joe suggests that he goes in and pretends to be on-side, while Darryl and Trev wait outside and rush in when he’s got the Red Brands off-guard. Say what you want about Joe, when he finds a plan that works, he sticks with it.
Jeb managed to pass himself off as a Quiet Brother named Father Harper before, so he simply walks straight into the building as John and Magnus take up positions at the windows.
“Hey! Who are you?”
“I’m your goddamned employer!”
Joe rolls decently on his check to lie, and the Red Brands fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
“Oh! Of course sir! Err… what can we do for you?”
“Where’s the rest a’ you? The big fella, Dutch, where’s he?”
“He’s gone to talk with Mister Locke, sir.”
“Mister Locke, right, right…” (suspicious pause) “And he’s…?”
“He’s prob’ly stayin’ at the saloon, sir. Haven’t you seen him?”
“Of course I have! Well, thank you boys. I’ll leave you to your evening.” (starts walking back towards the door, taking a stick of dynamite out of his coat pocket) “Now, I don’t know about you, but I always like to leave… with a bang.”
Jeb throws the stick of dynamite into the middle of the group, and lights the fuse with his small miracle ability. One KABOOM later, and two of the Red Brands are dead and the other two are hurt badly and knocked down, easy pickings for John and Magnus at the windows.
Level Up! We’re nearing the conclusion of the story I have in mind, so I let the guys hit 4th level. Everyone got more HP, and the chance to increase their ability scores; they all chose Constitution and got even more HP (good for Trev, as his character is ridiculously frail). They also got some funky new abilities; Darryl chose counter attack for John (allowing him to retaliate if someone attacks him), Trev took step aside for Magnus (a reactive Defence buff), and Joe chose voice of command for Jeb (essentially a limited-use command spell from D&D).
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 14 Red Brand gang members, 1 guard dog, Silas Thorn, Jenny the Razor, 4 Fihanna-Fimh warriors, Stone Bear, 6 Biel-Tan warriors.
So, the group has a new target; this Mister Locke fellow, no doubt one of the sinister Quiet Brothers. What challenges will he present? Guess we’ll find out next time…
I’m sure it’ll be fine.