Whispers under Scarholm

The Backstory

As heir-apparent of the kingdom of Tol Amroth, Prince Amfred Fe Shaetling IV, needed to improve his reputation in the eyes of his subjects. Unfortunately for him, that was one of the few things that cannot be purchased with the promise of gold and royal patronage. One can, however, be expertly crafted, given time and raw material.

Martial prowess being a solid foundation for kingly prestige, as well as an outlet for youthful passions, the King decided his son would lead a punitive expedition against the goblin tribes living in the Scarholm Peaks.

Viewed as scavengers and vermin, the goblins dwell in the caverns and tunnels beneath the mountains, and emerge occasionally to raid remote farmsteads and small villages. A quick campaign under the rugged Scarholm mountains against a weak foe would ensure not only a degree of safety for the Little Shaet, it would provide ample fodder for the prince’s fame as a ‘warrior’ and stature as future leader.

Just in case

Several companies of Royal Guard were ordered to reinforce the regular conscripts. Your party of Nightwatch Hunters was also sent, tasked to watch over the royal personage in the unlikely event of any supernatural or monstrous threat.

But these are puny, goblin savages. Little better than filthy animals. What could go wrong?”

Chris’ Blade, Matt’s Mancer, Chris C’s Tracker, TJ’s Alchemist, and Tom’s Tracker.

The story up to this point

The campaign got off to a good start.

Upon arrival at the Scarholm Peaks, army scouts located several entrances to the goblin dens. The Prince quickly ordered the men into the tunnels, intent on razing the greenskin warrens down to bare rock and scorched timber.

After an initial string of victories, the goblins retreated deeper under the mountain. Convinced of his own essential excellence, and flush with those first easy triumphs, Prince Amfred ignored the advice of the army commanders and ordered the army to pursue. Soon, the fighting turned into a series of vicious, hit-n-run skirmishes and the men of Tol Amroth found themselves divided, lost in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, with casualties mounting.

A sea of goblins. And more.

After three bloody, terrifying days, the men of Tol Amroth stumbled into a vast underground cavern. There, in the baleful light of a hundred bonfires, swathes of luminous fungus, and the eerie glow of strange pearlescent orbs, they saw a huge army. Rank upon rank of goblins, trolls, ogres, spiders and rats, armed and armored, standing in the midst of crude war machines and siege engines; the staging area for an invading army.

War was coming to the surface world.

Previous Session

Our heroes woke in the dark, their ears ringing, the bitter taste of stone dust and blood in their mouths.

The last thing they remembered was a trumpet call to retreat before some military genius detonated a dozen barrels of gunpowder in a frantic attempt to seal off the tunnels to the surface and discourage pursuit.

Turned out the explosion caused a cave-in. (surprise, surprise) The Nightwatch Hunters regained consciousness to discover they were in a network of tunnels below the cavern with the goblin army.

Cut off from their comrades, they scavenged for supplies, healed their wounds, fought giant spiders, and headed toward the surface.

Desperately Seeking Doggo

Saturday’s session, the second game, opened with our heroes having to decide whether to mount a rescue of several fellow soldiers, or grab more supplies from a lightly guarded pile of looted equipment.

The narrative scene saw them choose to help the prisoners and successfully follow the goblin guards without being spotted. (There was one tense moment when the Blade Warrior slipped on some loose shale, but his arse-over-teakettle clatter went unnoticed.)

Eventually, they went up some stone stairs into an underground grotto. There, the Alchemist’s faithful War Pug – currently named Sparky – was tussling with an oversize spider. The party watched as the goblin guards went to a mysterious pillar and manipulated a series of levers. That, in turn, opened a portcullis on the far wall. There was the party’s exit out of the area and the only way to rescue their comrades.

Pale as dead fish, nasty as rabid rats.

The first turns of the tactical engagement saw the Hunters rescue the War Pug and advance toward the pillar. Immediately, waves of goblin raiders moved in to cut them off.

Scattered on the ground were six Points of Interest. Marked by a brass coin, they contained valuable supplies. One item per POI, and once cleared, the coin could be redeemed by the player for a free re-roll during the game.

The pillar was the engagement’s only Objective and was considered a Plot Point. Successfully manipulating it would allow the Hunters to open the portcullis and leave the area. To do so, required three successful Interact actions. However, as a Plot Point, the story line called for the Hunters to decipher the goblin glyphs and manipulate them in the correct sequence, so Hunter must use their Mind Primal Attribute die type to attempt the Interact actions. A difficult task, it turned out only Tom’s Ranger and TJ’s Alchemist had a passable knowledge of goblin iconography.

Slog, Brawl, and Lob Grenadoes

With seven turns to fight their way through the grotto, decipher the pillar’s runes, and get the gate open, there wasn’t much time to search many of the POI. In no time, the scrabble of D6 Goblin bullies gave way to vicious D8 Spider Cavalry. If it wasn’t for TJ’s judicious application of explosives and incredibly good dice rolling, I fear our Hunters would have ended up in a goblin stew pot.

Sparky the War Pug also earned his keep, tearing the throats out of several of the goblin bullies and taking the pressure off his master.

Slowly, carefully, the Hunters managed to interpret the goblin symbols correctly. They then fought their way toward the exit, killing goblin foot soldiers and spider riders, grabbing what loot they could as the turn count wound down.

In the end, most of the party made it out on time. Only Tom’s wounded Tracker was left on the grotto floor. Seeing as he was one Move away from the foot of the stairs and more than one Move from the nearest enemy, it was decided he rolled under the gate to safety just as it slammed shut, but would carry his injury into the next session.

Shoulda gone for the supplies, amiright?

Sadly, only one of the prisoners was still alive when the party reached their cell. The others had either been tortured to death or succumbed to their wounds. (that moment when you roll a 1 on a D4)

Still, our heroes are deep under the Scarholm mountains with an entire army between them and blue skies. They need to warn the King of the imminent invasion and another warm body certainly won’t hurt their chances of survival.

And so ends the second session of our Nightwatch Blood and Bone.

Thank you for stopping by. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. Have an excellent week.

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