Cheap tickets

A good day to die

cheap tickets (3)

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Cheap tickets part three – A good day to die
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Cast
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Detlev Kanst – Ratcatcher (and Fred-the-dog)
Grim Grimnirsson – Dwarf Troll Slayer
Petra Nunce – Gambler
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_ The session starts with Conrad meeting the three heroes over breakfast in the Green Bottle Inn. Something has been spotted lurking around the Old Mill, an hour or so to the west of the town, and as its in his patrol area, the Roadwarden is going to investigate. The three heroes finish their meal, and accompany Conrad out of the Inn._
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_ An hour on a horse, but more like two on foot. Grim, Detlev and Petra trudge after the warden on his mount, saying little, whilst Fred-the-dog scampers about sniffing and peeing in delight. No-one in the party has any outdoor skills, so rely on Conrad to guide them (the fools!), and after a good walk, the warden halts them in some bushes a few hundred yards from the Mill. “I’m going to ride on past, like I’m going somewhere. That should keep whatever is in there in place and focused on me. Give me five minutes, then you try and sneak up.”_
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_ The adventurers nod, and watch as the Roadwarden rides slowly past the Mill and out of sight. They wait a while, then begin to move out as stealthily as they can (I make them all take opposed checks, even though the goblin is not watching). Grim and Detlev both fail their tests, Detlev with a bane (he falls down a hole!) and I crank the party tension up a couple of notches. They continue to creep closer, waiting for an arrow to spit one of them, when they hear the sound of clashing blades. “Buggerit!” shouts Grim and charges towards the sound of fighting, with the other two trailing behind._
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_ They burst through some bushes and see Conrad in combat with a goblin. The greenskin, wounded, looks up and shouts a hoarse profanity. The effect on Grim is spectacular to say the least (I push him two steps into the reckless stance immediately), his eyes bug, he froths and screams a war cry before charging the goblin, striking wildly and killing his enemy almost at once before pounding the corpse into the ground. The other two are in awe of the dwarf, as well as being a little frightened. Petra eventually gathers the courage to ask her companion just what he’d been called, and Grim, through gritted teeth, haltingly tells her, “he called me … one who … one who … reneges on a negotiated contract!”_
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_ (The goblin in fact shouted a goblin curse, based on the Khazad word, oathbreaker – yet another example of goblins light-fingered tendencies. This word is a terrible insult to a dwarf, and even more so to a Troll Slayer, who may well be … one who has reneged on a negotiated contract. The Goblin was actually cursing Conrad)._
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_ After fetching his horse, Conrad suggests they remove the goblins head – Josef Karlsberg, the merchant, will want it if they want paying. An argument breaks out over who should carry it, and in the end Grim gets the unpleasant task (on the grounds that, he split it open and made it leak stuff everywhere, so he should carry it). They also find a wolf tied up in the Mill, obviously the goblins mount, which they leave._
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_ After checking the goblins pockets (10 coppers and a bit of lint), the four are left in a quandry about how to find the rest of the goblins. “We could let the wolf go and follow it,” suggests Detlev. He is roundly shouted down, as a) how would they keep up with it? b) it might attack them and c) it would warn the rest of the goblins that something was amiss._
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_ Conrad suggests that he might be willing to try to track them for a full share of the reward – after all, he says, I could just go and fetch the rest of my troop now and no-one would be payed. The companions agree hastily and they set off on the goblins back track – Conrad appears to be an excellent tracker (he knows where he’s going!), but after a while, even the three companions start to notice signs of the band – a pile of droppings here, discarded food (no-one wonders why the tracks have never been picked up before by a halfway competent troop of Roadwardens)._
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_ Another few hours travel through lightly wooded terrain, then Conrad stops. “They’re going to the old Mine,” he says, pointing ahead. “We can trap them there!” He gestures to a low, tree covered hill a few miles ahead. “The mine is just beyond that hill. If you continue on to it, then climb the hill silently (he looks hard at Grim here), you’ll come out on a low slope overlooking the mine workings. Position yourselves to watch them and wait for me to return with help.” He turns his horse and starts back towards town, shouting a last comment “We’ve got them! Don’t let them get away!” before galloping off._
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_ Now what to do. The three adventurers look at one another, then decide that they might as well do what Conrad suggested. After all, two hours back to town, an hour or so to gather the troops and then a couple of hours back here – Conrad should be back with help before dusk, and they could wrap up the whole thing today! Back to the Green Bottle, for a feed, a drink and the reward by nightfall. (This was pretty much what passed for a planning session amongst the players. You’ve got to laugh)._
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_ The three push on, more alert than before, and starting to feel a bit less secure. They make there way up the hill, looking out for guards, and making stealth tests (again not necessary, but it adds to the tension!). As they carefully peer down at the mine, they can see a rough enclosure containing a pack of wolves, and a goblin watchman just inside the entrance to the mine workings, looking bored and half asleep. Petra counts the wolves carefully. “There’s only seven of them. We must have killed quite a few at the ambush!” (Er, no, none actually, though a number were injured when they were knocked off their mounts. The Roadwardens would have confirmed it if anyone had thought to ask, there were no goblin bodies left on the road. A number of wolves ran away, though)._
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_ Detlev gets out his sling, carefully unwinding the straps and checking his lead stones; Fred licks his hand then sneaks off to pee in excitement. Petra checks over her pistol and powder, before drawing her dueling sword and checking it’s edge. Grim, ignoring the two humans, draws his two axes and whispers to them in a loving voice, caressing the blades, whilst making shallow cuts in his forearms._
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_ “Put it away, Grim,” mutters Detlev in a horrified voice. “We’re not going to fight them alone. Conrad can’t be too far away, and when he arrives, we’ll make short work of the goblins.” Petra agrees, and Grim settles to watch the mine, muttering that he could probably take seven by himself._
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_ As dusk approaches, the three companions become more and more concerned about Conrad’s non appearance. Something must have gone wrong, they conclude, perhaps his horse fell or went lame; perhaps a wild animal got him; ‘perhaps he’s just chicken’ adds Grim. The party finally realize that they are on there own; there is a hurried consultation, and they decide to deal with the goblins themselves._
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_ The plan Grim hatches is simple. Kill the guard, drive off the wolves then storm the mine and kill everyone inside. When Detlev objects, Grim points out that he’ll be doing most of the fighting, so suck it up. He agrees with poor grace. (To be honest, the players actually worked out some good tactics – knowing the wolves may well be their worst enemies, Petra’s spare powder horn is strapped onto a flask of brandy as a makeshift firebomb to drive them off. Detlev will smash the fence, Petra will bomb the wolves and Grim will take down the goblin on watch, before taking position at the narrow mouth of the mine, and wait for the other two to join him. Hopefully they’ll be able to kill most of the goblins at the entrance – no one really fancies hunting the greenskins in the dark of the mine)._
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The battle
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_ Background – there is actually a whole tribe of goblins here, waiting to gather enough arms from Josef’s wagons before attacking the town. They have entered the old mine from deeper tunnels, unknown to the original miners, and have set up camp deeper in the complex; they have only got a few wolves, hence the relatively low number of attackers at the stagecoach ambush. Most of the goblins are standard, mixed hand weapons and short-bows with a few bucklers, but there is a core group of about twenty equipped from Josef’s stock with chain mail, spears and shields._
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_ I set up a tracker with five spaces on it, figuring that the entrance guards would rush out, but would run after a few losses. The leader of the goblins is not stupid, and would prefer to kill his enemies from a distance, so will gather his archers in the main area of the mine before moving off to deal with any troublesome enemies. Oh, I also got so racked off with the henchmen rules that I made all the goblins NPC’s. Ouch!_
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_ The plan goes really well initially – Detlev even thinks to approach the wolves from upwind, and the three companions, sneaking through the low bushes, get quite close before the wolves become restless. Bursting from cover, Grim screams a khazalid warcry, and charges the guard, killing him instantly (double strike plus extra dice for surprise and fighting goblins = 11 wounds, also one fatigue to Grim.) Detlev rushes over to the wolf enclosure and, using his sword, slices through the rope holding the gate closed. He backs away as the wolves start to leave their den, growling and trying to outflank him. Petra lights the bomb and moves up next to him, throwing the explosives directly at the leading wolf. It explodes and splashes onto two other wolves, who run howling in fear. The leader of the pack, however, whilst shaken, is not ready to run yet. It attacks Detlev, wounding him, but Fred prevents the wolf from going for his masters throat (4 wounds + a critical, converted to 5 wounds using ‘mans best friend’)._
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_ Grim, not willing to leave the narrow entrance to the mine (only 4 normal sized creatures per engagement), howls a warcry and waits for the rest of the goblins to show up (guarded position). Two goblins come charging up the tunnel and attack Grim, one scoring a minor cut on the dwarf’s arm (1 wound). Meanwhile Detlev attacks the wolf leader using his nimble strike action, scoring a solid hit to the creatures front leg (3 wounds + critical). Petra, steadying her pistol, then places a bullet through the creatures chest, flinging it back with the impact (another 7 wounds + critical). This is too much for the wolf, and he flees, taking the rest of the pack with him._
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_ Grim lashes out with his Troll-Feller Strike, slaying one of his opponents instantly, (11 wounds + critical, but a second fatigue point). The second goblin attempts to hit Grim but fails, injuring itself in the process (no successes, one chaos star). Detlev, charging up from the wolf enclosure (+1 fatigue), moves next to Grim and sets Fred on the second goblin. He darts under the goblins sword and savages it’s leg (3 wounds). Petra, loading her pistol as she approaches the mine entrance, fires her pistol over the shoulder of her companions and strikes the wounded goblin above his left eye, killing him (success, but +2 fatigue)._
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_ Again the players are unwilling to leave the entrance to the mine, and both Detlev and Grim ready themselves (guarded position for Grim, assess the situation for Detlev and Petra), whilst Petra reloads her pistol. With a shout, another group of goblins advance up the tunnel, more slowly this time, sheltering behind shields. Detlev steps back and pulls out his sling, but misses with his shot. Petra, showing her skills, puts a lead ball through the leading goblins shield and into the greenskin belly, leaving him gut-shot on the floor (6 successes! 1 critical plus 2 extra wounds. He’s gone). The two remaining goblins charge, and engage Grim, attempting to swarm him, but only succeed in inflicting another minor cut (1 wound)._
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_ (Phil, who’s playing Grim, is beside himself now. He’s shaking four reckless dice, and seems to be killing anything that moves. He is unbeatable!). He lets loose a mighty blow with his fist that stuns his opponent (seven successes plus a boon! nine wounds plus a critical!), and Petra slips stealthily behind the tottering greenskin to plant her blade firmly between his shoulder blades. The other goblin, terrified of this maniacal dwarf, turns and runs, but is brought down by Fred nipping at his heels (I allow Detlev to ‘attempt a stunt’ as a reaction, and he succeeds in tripping the fleeing goblin)._
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_ And now it all starts to go wrong. Grim starts down the corridor at a trot, bellowing a warsong and Detlev and Petra look at each other, then begin to follow, when Fred starts to bark. The dwarf, cursing the dog, suddenly stops (I allow Grim an easy observation test to notice the goblins gathering in the main body of the cave due to his night vision. At least fifty goblins!). “Back!” he cries, and a volley of arrows fly at them. Most miss, but Grim takes two arrows, (4 wounds), whilst Detlev and Petra take a hit each (6 wounds for Petra, but, more worryingly, 5 wounds plus another critical for Detlev – converted into 6 wounds using man’s best friend again). Fred the dog takes an arrow trying to protect his master, and his nerve finally breaks. He runs off up the tunnel whimpering, and the three heroes follow, all the while expecting an arrow in the back._
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_ The three shelter behind the corner at the entrance to the mine, as more arrows whip past. (I suspect that they are finally realizing that they are in DEEP trouble, with no deux ex machina escapes on the cards. We halt the game briefly as the players try and decide what to do). There is a roar, and the sound of many goblins charging up the tunnel. Trapped! (And then it happens. One of the reasons I like this game so much, people get so involved)._
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_ “Run!” shouts Grim, “I’ll hold them back!” Detlev and Petra look at each other in amazement. “Escape!” He shouts, and catching the others eye, he smiles. “Today is a good day to die.”_
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_ Detlev and Petra take off, running hard (We’re totting up fatigue points here), and Grim, waiting until the running greenskins are almost at the entrance, charges into the mass, slashing out with his double strike. (Extra dice for surprise, fate points and well, just because he’s being so heroic – he is going to die, after all). Four successes and a comet, and another one bites the dust, skull split, brains leaking out._
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_ The goblins quickly surround Grim at the entrance, and attempt to swarm him. (Three opponents, two extra expertise die). They claw at him, wounding him with many small cuts (2 more wounds), pressing him back against the wall of the tunnel. The first of the well armed goblins appears, and Grim, sensing a challenge, unleashes his troll feller strike, severely wounding him, but the chain mail prevents death. All three goblins attack, and using as many A/C/E die as possible, score two more wounds on the dwarf._
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_ More well armed goblins appear, pushing their lightly armed kin aside, and again Grim attacks, slaying his wounded foe, but another greenskin steps into his place. The goblins attempt to crush Grim against the wall, and one of the spears slip through Grim’s guard, spitting his shoulder (4 wounds plus a critical – dislocated shoulder). The dwarf is now at the limit of his wounds, (all strikes are now criticals), and he begins to sing his death song._
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_ There is a lull in the fighting, and the leader of the goblins appears, looking over the shoulder of his spearmen. He spits on the floor, “Oathbreaker,” he snarls. “Kill him”_
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_ Grim, realizing his end is here, slings one of his axes at the warlords head and charges him. The axe actually strikes! and the chieftain is flung back, wounded. Grim, charging into the wider tunnel, is spitted on the goblins spears, and, hanging from the spears, is stabbed from behind. The end is quick._
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_ (This whole final stand was run with Grim alone – I was concerned that the others would become bored, but they turned into a support chorus for the dwarf strengthened when I told them the longer Grim held off the goblins, the better their chances of survival)._
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The chase
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_ I’d sketched out a few rules in my head for a chase/hunt; moving the players every turn, but forcing the pursuers to test their tracking skill every turn – an easy test, with failure meaning they lose the trail and are removed, degrees of success moving them closer to the players. Once they occupy the same square there is a fight. Each turn the players would pick a location card, and I’d allow the players to do one thing a turn related to the card to try and throw off pursuit etc – adding dice to the tracking tests depending on how imaginative the idea. Initially I was going to allow the characters a small head-start – three paces or so, saying this was how long it took to organize the pursuit. Grim’s sacrifice made it all much more realistic._
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_ There are five groups of five goblins tracking, armed with hand weapons and short bows (the well armed goblins won’t take part). All groups have a trained tracker with them. There is a progress marker ten steps long)._
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_ The goblins pour out of the tunnels, kicking and slashing Grim’s corpse as they pass. The chieftain, shouting orders, quickly marshals his forces and sets them off after the heroes, the mass of goblins shouting and bellowing with blood lust._
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Start – step five on the tracker
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_ The two survivors start five steps ahead of the trackers – four steps due to Grim’s heroic death, and an extra step from their running (both are at the limits of their fatigue). Petra and Detlev, realizing that they are being tracked, decide to split up, (I never even thought of that), and their pursuers divide, three groups after Detlev and two after Petra._
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Step six
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_ Both groups chasing Petra succeed easily (one extra step each), whilst one of Det’s followers gets an extra space. I let it slip that their wounds may well be helping their enemies, so both players attempt a first aid test. Failure! Petra forces a re-roll with her gamblers class talent and, bumping it up with fate points, succeeds._
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Step seven
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_ Next tracking step, all of Detlev’s pursuers succeed, the closest getting two extra advances (this group seems to have a master tracker with them) – only two spaces behind. Both of Petra’s pursuing groups pass, one getting an extra step. Three spaces clear._
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Step eight
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_ To throw off the pursuers, Petra flings her blood stained jacket into the bushes, and Detlev follows suit (telepathy? They are several miles apart). One of Petra’s following groups fails their test, as does one of Detlev’s, though all the others gain an extra space (one step behind Detlev, two behind Petra)_
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Step nine
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_ Petra decides to walk on stony ground, whilst Detlev wades into a shallow stream that crosses his path. All the remaining groups of goblins use their expertise to try and bump up their scores, and … all succeed comfortably. The Ratcatcher has been caught._
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_ Detlev dies hard. The goblins come across him whilst he is wading in the stream, and pepper him with arrows, pushing him to his wound ceiling and inflicting a critical. At the limits of his endurance, he drags himself up the stream bank and attempts to use his sling, but misses wildly. Three arrows strike him in the chest and he falls back into the stream, bleeding out into the cold water. Exit the small man from Nuln, not with a bang but a whimper._
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Step ten
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_ Whilst stopping briefly, Petra pours gunpowder from her horn onto a pile of leaves and lights it, in an attempt to throw the goblins off the track, attract a rescue or even cause a forest fire. Thick smoke billows out, confusing the tracking greenskins, and … succeeds!_
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_ Well, that’s it. No time to finish properly as we’ve run waaaay over time, so I rule that Petra staggers on towards the town, and, at the limits of her endurance, is discovered by a farmer with his cart and is taken back to the Inn._
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Aftermath.
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Well, that was grueling. Phil, (Grim’s alter ego) was really quite upset by the dwarf’s big death scene; I was too, the slayer character he played was a lot of fun, and he and the ratcatcher had a fabulous hate/hate relationship. I did wonder wether I’d made the tracking rule a bit too easy for the goblins; I’d envisioned the players perhaps turning on the goblins and ambushing small groups one at a time. Ah well
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