All present, we resume on the afternoon of Erntezeit 3rd, 2523.
The goblins all slain, the adventurers are thanked by Yadri. Harek tells him that the group has been looking for him to ask him about missing students but that it is a long tale. Yadri is suitably angered hearing of the attack on the mine. After recovering their breath (rally step) the adventurers and Yadri continue on after the goblins.
They are setting a hard travel pace and several companions are carrying more than is easily borne while hiking, Otto, Erasmus and Harek all suffering fatigue (2 points failing 2D Athletics) and Harek falls behind (delay result). The result is that when they make camp in a place Yadri knows, Harek is late arriving and not present when the comrades try to talk to Yadri.
Otto asks Yadri about the silver ring and a short account is given (Charm fortune for having aided, misfortune for not being dwarf, 1 success):
The site was an old delve (dwarf mine) from before the War of Vengeance and following Goblin Wars. The site had been used since by humans who did some work. It looked like someone had tried to blow up the inner hall but underestimated dwarf craftsmanship and just brought a few stones down on themselves. The ring was on a long dead bony hand which was all left of one fellow. The mine markings were on the inner doors so seeing it was marked played out, I left.
On the 4th, the sky is overcast with a few clouds and light winds. Yadri knows of a shorter path than the goblins are taking through the mountains, if one is willing to risk narrower and steeper ways. The party takes that route, hoping to reach the other side (the Upper Waldbach River Valley) before the goblins. Matthias is in white wolf form as they follow Yadri. It takes coordination (2D check with 2 fortune for Yadri’s advice) to navigate this path and Brun slips and takes a fall, breaking his nose (auto crit for fall).
As they come through the path, just before the final dip down into the valley, they have a good view of the valley and Yadri points out the Gruber farm not far away and the other farmsteads ( Shenkelhütte, Hinterstein, Gronenborn and Raebel Farms), the village of Neiderfeld and hidden from sight at the river head the Bergjaeger outpost of Schlupwinkel (about 12 miles from Neiderfeld) .
Oh, that’s not good, there’s smoke coming from where Schlupwinkel lies, thicker than just a campfire or chimney. Yadri says about 30 mountain guard are based there, though most are usually out in patrols. Harek, with his good eyes, picks out 2 or 3 figures, likely on horseback, moving up the valley.
The comrades decide to split up. Matthias in wolf form will go to see if the goblins are coming through the path Yadri expects (which comes out about a quarter mile away) while the rest go to the nearby Gruber farmstead to warn them. It is twilight when they arrive to alarm the Grubers.
The Gruber farmstead is a small one with a simple wooden pallisade and a population of eight adults and two children – Heinrich and Emilie Gruber, their family and hired hands. Lady Julianne von Leitdorf, Sir Quintus and maid are still here tending the fevered boys Deiter and Pieter. “Goblins!” cries out Otto raising the alarm.
Brun wants to know if they will send warning to the other farms and village but the Grubers won’t send anyone out into the darkness if there are goblins nearby. The Grubers offer the adventurers shelter for the night.
In case the goblins are coming to attack the farm, Brun asks if there is any place the adventurers could use to surprise them. Heinrich says if the goblins are coming from direction expected there is a hedgerow along the east side the field the goblins will come through. It could conceal an ambush.
Meanwhile, Matthias in wolf-form spotted goblin wolf riders, spearmen and archers as they approached before they were too close to him (Observation 2D) and avoids their wolves catching his scent (Chaos Star on roll meant they had this chance).
[the goblins weren’t actively looking, like a watchman would be, so this was not opposed/competing check and principle of ‘player rolls’ applied, but the Chaos Star then gives the foe a chance to roll – mechanically the rolling party often having advantage]
Matthias went ahead of the goblins and when his comrades saw the white wolf they called him over to the hedgerow to join the ambush.
[At this point a 4 hour playing mark is passed and as they steel themselves for the fight to come an advance is earned – Matthias has spent enough time in the wild and as a wolf that he completes learning Nature Lore, others TBD – it is important an advances spent can be explained in terms of what is learned/revealed etc.]
Three goblin wolf-riders (archers, most wolf-riders are archers) come into view. They have a challenge die added into their initiative to reflect “ambush”.
Melee ensues – it is a cloudy night near dark new moon meaning three misfortune dice darkness penalty (one for Harek)) and it’s late in day (a full day’s mountain trek, and now a fight after sunset) so a single misfortune die is added to all actions for being tired.
During the melee, Matthias come close to falling and suffers a disorienting blow (critical) and Harek finds himself the preferred target of several goblins, suffering a minor trauma (critical). Yadri and Grimbul aid the adventurers, Yadri advising Erasmus where to shoot in the dark (all 3 fortune dice he can give used) and Harek being helped by Grimbul (success/boon to one roll). Grimbul’s ‘large and in charge’ feature makes criticals on foes likely to scare them off.
Most of the raiders are killed, two wolves and a wounded goblin archer escape.
The goblin bodies are searched. They don’t have any particularly exceptional weapons or gear (unlike the ones at mine) but one wolf rider has a scrap of hide with a moon symbol and eight hash marks on it. Folklore recalls goblins use the moon as their calendar and the adventurers realize that the attack on the mine happened 8 days after a full moon. Matthias concludes the attack was timed – part of a coordinated effort.
The Gruber’s have related that Herr Morgenstein sent some of his men to investigate the fire upriver. Herr Morgenstein is the wealthiest man in valley and de facto leader since the von Gorsteins died out (in the fire that killed them all) and the valley fell under the Steward of Grenzstadt’s dominion (the steward’s authority meaning he sends a tax collector each season). The Grubers whisper the Gorsteins were necromancers, stealing corpses and making things out of their parts.
Harek talks with Yadri, in kazalid, and (multiple successes) gets him to reveal a story he has kept to himself out of fear of invoking some vengeance from somewhere,
I took the three to the mine site and showed them the entry, its a narrow cut and defile that leads to the pocket canyon with mine entrance – you could walk right by it and never know it was there if you didn’t know what to look for.
A couple days later, I’m panning in a stream nearby when by good luck I see a reflection in the water, it’s their bodyguard trying to come up behind me with his sword out – I scramble out of the way, nearly getting skewered and holler for Grimbul who does for this backstabber. (A comment by Harek about the evidence being eaten is rebuffed, Grimbul’s a good bear, I buried the murdering bastard under a pile of rocks).
I don’t know what became of the other two. Didn’t want no trouble so I’ve not told this to anyone.
Harek also asks about the abandoned mine where the ring was found and Yadri says,
Humans had built since it was abandoned. They were good about not defacing any our work, bringing stone slabs and such in for their own carvings. I ken Reikspiel but this wasn’t it – didn’t poke around as I’m no spelunker or grave robber – and then he admits, something about the place bothered me, felt like something was creeping up on me all the time I was there though I could never see anything and Grimbul wasn’t bothered.
Meanwhile Otto entertains the Gruber children with a puppet show, complete with goblin heads on sticks, enacting the defeat of the goblins. The Grubers are much heartened.
[Fortune Point into party pool]
The comrades rest overnight at the Gruber farmstead and receive trained first aid with the benefit of Lady Julianne’s care and Emile Gruber’s herb collection (2 fortune dice, also applicable to overnight recovery checks here). Lady Julianne sets Brun’s broken jaw (critical healed).
Harek relates Yadri’s story, out of earshot of Yadri, to his comrades. Brun finds it difficult to believe Vilmar would try to murder the prospector. Harek believes his suspicions that there is some conspiracy to keep what the students were looking for (the Tutis Bibliotheca) hidden and that Vilmar could have been part of it.
Another development is that last evening Harek and Otto spotted something peculiar. Their host, Heinrich Gruber bears a strong resemblance to Professor Wilhelm Fortenhaffer of Owl’s Inn College in Streissen. Well except that Heinrich is missing an ear.
Otto probes this by ‘innocently’ saying he’s met someone who looks like Heinrich, which provokes an immediate reaction – where, what name is he using? Thoughts of “do we use guile, charm or what” to find out whatever Heinrich knows are banished by his string of exclamation and curses – joined by his wife as he calls to her, “Gustave is in Streissen, he’s a Professor, the bastard!”
It turns out that many years ago Heinrich’s older brother Gustave stole a cache of valuable items from The Gentlemen and ran off with them. The smugglers thought Heinrich would know where his brother had gone and questioned him – at some length (hence the missing ear), but Heinrich knew nothing – until now! It is clear there is no love lost here!
We break the morning of Erntezeit 5th. Matthias plans to stay and rest (a To2 and severity 2 critical could use some fortune dice on recoveries) while others go to the village to see what is up.
- Professor Wilhelm Fortenhaffer is one of the two professors who Otto met in Wissenland before his family relocated.
- These were the two professors Brun’s love interest Gisila worked for and and who helped out of a jam, though he recalls it was the other professor, Helmgarter who emptied his purse to get her out of the false charges – on that same trip.
- Professor Fortenhaffer is a colleague of Professor Helmgarter, Otto’s sister Mina’s professor (who s the other of the two professors above and one of the two professors who sent the students and the PCs’ on this trip).
- He is an expert in history.
[Correcting from session, Fortenhaffer is not Mina’s professor though he takes classes for Helmgarter at times and is friends with him]
Note, Matthias will get “long term care” benefit not just because he “takes day off” but also does so in an environment conducive to healing. The Gruber Farm is a “mini-hospice” with its herb racks, Emilie Gruber’s skills with first aid and herb lore, and in this case Lady Julianne’s assistance, in the peaceful bucolic environment etc. Something to remember perhaps.
On the morning’s walk to Neiderfeld (it’s about 2.5 hour walk), those who go will be accompanied by Heinrich Gruber, who wants to know what is going on with the smoke upriver and what the Bailiff will do – unless the investigators do not wish the company.