We had a new guy with us last Tuesday night, so we did a quick one-of scenario for ASOBH. John is an old hand at RPGs but fairly new to TTGs. One of the many things I appreciate about the ASOBH system is how easy it is to teach newcomers.
Matt, Derek, and John each had a pair of heroes, all of whom banded together to chase the Iron Jaw Orcs and the infamous giant, Nal-Rog of the Nine Hills from the ruins of Gray Maarten’s Tower, near the rune stones locally called the Four Sisters.
Real slugfest. Heroes for the win. No AAR but here are some pictures.
Painted up two new Shadowrun-type crews, so ‘Song of Mirrorshades and Shadows’ on the docket for tomorrow night.
Derek was called into work, furiously cooking gluten-free alternatives for customers’ Thanksgiving celebrations, but Matt and I got together over a quick ‘one-of’ ASOBH game last night.
Hrodor the Druid and his nephew Brynar have been tracking the evil necromancer Heinrich Klutch for months. Following him to the quiet hamlet of Tendale, the Northmen hire two sturdy rangers to reinforce their party and follow the sorcerer into the woods. Little do they know the wretched man plans on desecrating the ancient Shrine of the Skystone with dire incantations and foul majiks.
After an hour in the woods, the rangers suddenly report the old man has stopped in the shrine’s clearing a quarter mile on and seems to be preparing to enact some kind of ritual. Worse, he has been joined by unnatural allies: two cursed spirits, a gibbering ghoul, a brawny ghast, and a large, ugly warrior armed with a heavy battle ax and a deadly hand scythe. Six against four – they’re outnumbered.
“No matter,” Hrodor said. “We will stop this desecration, cut Klutch’s black heart from his body, and finally put an end to his vile schemes.”
Brynar hefts his sword and ax. “Ja. And I’ll cut down anyone or anything that gets in my way.”
Reluctant at first, the rangers pluck up their courage, unlimber their bows, and stalk into the woods.
The battle began well for Hrodor. The Rangers crept forward on the right as he and his nephew went left. The Ghoul was the first to spot the intruders and raced to confront Brynar. Garn Gravehand, the large pestilent warrior, and the unnamed Ghast followed after, leaving Klutch and the Cursed spirits to finish the ritual.
Brynar cleaved the Ghoul in half, spraying ichor and black blood among the trees. The Ghast attacked one of the rangers but was forced back. Gravehand’s bulk slowed him down and he lumbered through the underbrush toward the fighting.
Eventually Gravehand and the Ghast reached the Druid’s warband and began slugging it out. The battle was evenly matched with neither side gaining an advantage – until the Cursed spirits showed up.
Aura of Terror. That’s what cinched it for the forces of Darkness. A simple spell but so effective.
Frustrated at the interruption, Klutch sent the spirits to help Gravehand. The spirits floated swiftly on dire winds toward the fighting. Before they landed a single blow, their eerie, forlorn wailing and unearthly glow forced Hrodor’s compatriots to make morale checks. First one Ranger panicked, then Brynar flinched. Next, the Northern warrior was forced back by the Ghast. Another ghostly wail, and he fled off the nearest board edge. That left the Druid and the second Ranger, who fired ineffectively at the creatures advancing on them before retreating themselves. A rather ignominious conclusion to noble intentions.
Like the old Northern adage goes: Run, run, run away. Live to fight another day.
Hrodor’s vengeance was thwarted but not quenched.
*Notice if you will, the fallen rune stone on the right edge of the board. If Matt had bothered checking it, (it was marked with an objective stone) he would have found Piotor, a former mercenary come on hard times. Not above rolling the occasional drunk or lone traveler for a few extra coins, Piotor had followed Klutch into the woods thinking him an easy mark. Once the uglies showed up however, he wisely decided to back off. Some assistance and the promise of a a share in the spoils/reward, Piotor would have gladly have given Hrodor and crew a hand. But did Matt check? Nooooooooooo.
Our Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes campaign continued last week with our intrepid adventurers hiking into the foothills to locate the White Monk’s Tower. Rumors of treasure helped pull them on but a scroll hidden beneath the feet of the White Monk’s statue reveals the hidden passes to Storm Crag Keep – the lair of the Liche King.
Resuming our ASOBH campaign, our intrepid adventurers faced random encounter with an Black Ork warband. A bit more than the old ‘toll booth shakedown’, these orks were perfectly content to take heads for their belts as silver for their coin bags.
As far as encounters go, this was a straight up brawl. The clerics kept on the straight and narrow, aiming for the gate while the elves and hired ranger advanced through the wooded hills on the right.
Not ones to be shy, the Orks surged to meet them bellowing war cries, bashing their weapons together.
Combat turned into a rugby scrum in the open ground in front of the gate. The adventurers drew first blood, with Norbert the Novice bashing an ork brute to the dirt near the way stone. In fact, it seemed our heroes would carry the day as the orks were consistently sluggish in their combat and movement. Two more orks went down – one to grizzled cleric Lazarus Sturn, the other to the hired ranger’s sword. (earning his pay, that guy.) Even the massive Ork war boss was beaten back as he attacked the exiles. It looked like a black day for the greenskins, except…
Thing about orks is they’re tougher – and stupider – than a wagon full of rocks. They just don’t know when to stay down. And they didn’t.
The brutes from the old fortification finally got into the fight and the raw power of ork muscle began to tell. The ork warriors engaged the clerics, driving them back. In the woods, the huge War Boss just wouldn’t die. Beaten back, knocked down repeatedly, he got up again and again. He kept coming, swinging that massive ax like a harvester trying to beat the rain.
Through brute strength and stubbornness, the tide turned. First Norbert went down, bashed by an ax. Then the War Boss scored a gruesome kill on the pesky Ranger. Lazarus Sturn was felled next, fighting two brutes. The elf rogue dashed in to engage the War Boss as it lumbered toward the elf spell caster. A vicious dance ensued but in the end, the rogue’s speed and cunning was no match for raw orkish rage and savagery.
The last turn saw both the head cleric and the elf caster fleeing the board with the orks braying crude insults at their backs.
The adventurers will definitely need time to recover before continuing their quest to find the Lich King’s Crypt.
“Orcs… only good thing about fighting ’em is you can smell ’em long before you see ’em.”
In the midst of the Seer’s treasure was an iron key engraved with the symbol of St. Cuthbert. It was wrapped in a scrap of vellum on which were inked the words ““Kneel in the chancel at the feet of the saint and there you will find strength for your journey.”
You and your companions are two days west of Wolford town on the Old King’s Highway. Following a rutted dirt road through the forest, you come upon the ruins of an abbey, its walls battered, roof caved in, sacred statues thrown down. A nearby graveyard is overrun with weeds and sickly yellow grass. You hear grunts and coarse laughter from inside the crumbling chapel. The musk-stench of ork is on the wind, mingled with the acrid tang of campfire smoke. An small ork warband has definitely made camp here – most likely in preparation of raids on nearby human settlements. Three greenskin scouts loll by the ragged hedges outside the old abbey – the rest are inside.
Derek of Dunwich hefts his mace. “We’ll attend to the wretches desecrating the chapel. You circle around through the graveyard and deal with the sentries.”
You slip your sword from its sheath, nod, and stalk forward.
THE BATTLEFIELD AND FOES
ELTHARION’S EXILES AND THE WINNOW OF ST. CUTHBERT
TURN ONE: ORKS ADVANCE
The greenskins spot the approaching adventurers. The ork warchief leads two brutes out to meet the cleric’s party. The ork shaman lingers back to provide support. Meanwhile, the ork scouts seek cover behind a graveyard wall.
Your chest heaves as you lean on your sword and watch the last two greenskins flee. The clerics fall to their knees, giving thanks to their god for victory. You and your companions are bruised, bloody, but alive. There is treasure and provisions within. Perhaps even loot from the ork corpses. All in all, a good day.
Tonight you will bind your wounds, mend your armor, sharpen your blades. The riddle of the key and mysterious promise can wait until tomorrow. Now it is time to rest and recover.
With a ruined castle looming on the horizon of our SOBH campaign, I picked up a hot wire cutter off Amazon. I made two very simple test pieces to get a feel for how it works.
It’s a very handy tool with loads of terrain-building potential. Nasty fumes aside, it cuts 1″ and 2″ insulation foam like a dream, and now that I’ve got some mistakes out of the way, the next batch will be that much better. Now I get to hunt down inspiration for the Storm Crag Keep – a very cool problem to have.
Next SOBH adventure Tues eve: “The Desecration of St. Cuthbert’s Abbey.” Have a great weekend.
ENCOUNTER ONE FOR WHISPERS OF THE LICH KING – a SOBH Campaign
You are on the road to the Mill Bridge outside Wolford when another band of adventurers emerges from the woods. You recognize them by reputation (decent, reliable, competent) and quickly realize you are heading to the same destination: Aylard’s homestead in the Oak Hills.
It seems the old seer approached both parties a fortnight ago with an offer of work. You recall he appeared deeply troubled but declined to discuss specifics, saying he would provide you with an explanation if and when you accepted. (Seers are notoriously enigmatic) Apparently, the promise of decent pay and hints at the treasure were an offer you all found hard to refuse.
Half a mile on, you spy a column of black smoke rising over the trees. A quarter mile, you smell it. You exchange glances, ready weapons without a word, and advance cautiously up the dirt road to the Seer’s farm.
A hundred paces off, you see the houses and barn are ablaze. The sound of fighting behind the main house rises over the crackling of the fire – the clash of steel on steel, shouting, the yip and snarl of Gnolls.
What started as a good day has obviously soured. Just how rancid it has turned remains to be seen.
The Free Company and the Winnow of St. Cuthbert Approach the Farm
2. Gnoll Raiders
TURN ONE saw both forces advance. Barda the War Priest rushed headlong in his zeal to attack the Gnolls near the barn, leaving his companions behind. Meanwhile, Derick of Dunswich, Norbert the Novice, and Leofrick Night Hunter work their way up the road toward the three raiders.
The Gnolls are unafraid. The pack rushes forward, slavering for blood.
TURN TWO. Althalos and Piotr watch as the Gnoll Warrior smashes Barda with his morning star. The War Priest goes down hard, un-moving. A triumphant howl rises from the woods. The Gnoll Shaman giggles mockingly.
At the road, St. Cuthbert’s faithful are trading blows with the raiders.
TURN THREE. The over-zealous War Priest dispatched, the Warrior and Shaman lope toward the skirmish at the road. Leofrick swiftly cuts down his opponent, then rushes to help his brothers.
Piotr and Althalos finally move forward, Piotr running to aid Derick. Unfortunately, the fighter ran straight into the jagged edge of a Gnoll’s axe. He goes down like a sack of wet laundry.
TURN FOUR sees Norbert join the fray at his mentor’s side. Encouraged, Derick goes on the offensive and slays the raider archer that had harried his every step. A Gruesome Kill! The other raider turns to flee, but Althalos leaps over Piotr’s body swinging his staff. Another kill!
Tables turned, half their force dead, the Shaman and the Warrior turn tail (literally) and flee. The Seer’s farm is safe.
Or is it?
Althalos, Derick, Norbert, and Leofrick advance cautiously.
Forced out by the flames, a giant spider leaps out of the burning barn and menaces Derick. “Really?” he sighs. “I thought we were done here.”
The battle won, the adventurers search the area.
You find Aylard’s body in the yard behind the house. His staff beside him, a finely crafted short sword in his cold, gnarled fist, he is surrounded by five dead Gnoll warriors. The old seer died hard. Searching his bloodied robes, you discover a scroll and an old iron key. Your name is imprinted on the wax seal. The key has the woven knot of St. Cuthbert engraved on the bow.
Breaking the scroll’s seal and reading, you come to understand it is an account of Aylard’s last vision: a nightmare cloud of ravens circling the skies over strange, jagged mountains, the full moon tinged the pallor of poison green, a gaunt, cruel face under a rusty crown, a legion of undead ravaging the land, slaughtering every living creature. The scroll ends with mentions of recent sightings of the newly deceased roaming near the ruins of St. Cuthbert’s Abbey. The site is two days journey west of Wolford on the old King’s Highway. The last line on the scroll trails off: “Kneel in the chancel at the feet of the saint and there you will find strength for your journey.”