Chapter One, In Search of the Missing ends. With Yadri found and interviewed the fate of one is thought known and it is confirmed that the mine site where students last seen will have to be visited. A mine and a farm saved in the process.
Chapter Two, Goblin Troubles begins. It can’t be as simple as “so just go the mine”, can it?
Erntezeit 5 sees the Grubers give their thanks to Sigmar for delivering them from the greenskin menace (in the form of sending the Streissen men).
Yadri declines to go on to Neiderfeld. He doesn’t like being around his own folk in numbers, never mind umgi, and is only comfortable near mountain stone, “I’ll go into the mountains to where there is a good view of the valley and keep a lookout for grobi. I’ll light a fire that sends lots of smoke up if I sees any great number of them.”
Matthias remains at farm to rest, being of frailer constitution recovering from critical injury is harder for him.
Heinrich Gruber goes with the rest of the Streissen men to Neiderfeld.
At Gruber’s Farm – resting Matthias sees the men of the farm going out to work, after quickly carting goblin bodies away to leave for scavengers a safe distance from the farm. They are focused on starting to take in the harvest – over the next three weeks is the time to harvest most of their grain crops.
Matthias pays attention to Lady Julianne and Emilie Gruber as they tend him and confer about herbal remedies (rather than Sir Quintus when he pauses in his rounds to have the occasional pipe and reminisce about goblins in his day).
• Lady Julianne is chatting about the best time to harvest different herbs and how to store them, Emilie is telling her to always thank the Green Lady for her gifts – saying how her own mother taught her the prayers to use.
• Her mother is Gilda Heymann of Kleinsdorf, a lay servant of the Green Goddess – it was always her mother’s regret she never went to Dunkelhirsch to learn the mysteries and Emilie has not felt the calling, as much as she respects the Green Mother.
• Emilie is looking forward to the harvest celebrations of Mittherbst in a little over three weeks. Most of the county gathers at Neiderfeld but the Grubers will go to Three Stones which has the better celebration. It will be a chance to see her mother and younger brother – they will stay in Kleinsdorf overnight. They will also be taking a part of the harvest to the mill there.
The others take 2 and a half hours to walk to the village – on the way, see fields of crops and vineyards nearly ready to harvest with men and women working in them, children running errands or throwing stones at birds that the scarecrows don’t intimidate (especially those crows).
Nearing Neiderfeld, the village in sight, they meet the same eight well-armed riders who passed them as they were going to Hammelfels (7 days ago) heading out of it going down the valley – when the riders spot them they turn and ride towards PCs.
Both parties are interested in the other’s reasons to be in the region and the riders are interested to learn that the heroes are from Streissen, as they are looking for students from Streissen and a dwarf. Otto manages, despite a rider Intuiting Intentions, to conceal the fact the PC’s have met Yadri. Harek resists a Steely Gaze and draws information from the riders. The riders reveal there is a reward from a party who does not want to named for finding the students. They are leaving the area, however, as goblins are not part of their job.
[metagame – the PC’s could have tried to convince/shame the riders into staying and helping, 8 heavily armed riders would be very handy helping in valley’s defence, and trying to convince them could have had a bonus – they would have possibly revealed there was more to their decision to leave than goblins]
At Neiderfeld, a walled (in need of repair) village of 60, Heinrich introduces the men from Streissen who save his farm and Otto recounts the tale to good effect. The villagers are alarmed at word of more goblins but relieved they have been nearly wiped out. They know that goblins overwhelmed the Bergjaeger outpost at the head of the valley – some Bergjaegers are expected in a few hours.
The Bailiff, Morgenstein, is uncertain but decides to send two of his men (on two of his four horses) to Hammelfels (day’s ride) and Grenzstadt (3 days ride) to ask for help.
Waiting for the Bergjaegers, Brun asks the Bailiff about the ruined manor that overlooks the village from atop a rise to the east (the most defensible site in area actually). It was 14 years ago, Morgenstein relates that the villagers discovered the grave-robbing von Gorstein’s conducting bizarre experiments involving body parts. A young girl’s murder was the catalyst for bringing the would-be necromancers to justice. “We may not have witch hunters but we know what to do.”
Matthias remarks the village wall is in poor shape and Brun suggests some effort be devoted to fixing it.
[Metagame – well the Bailiff’s reaction to crisis has been to dither, only sending riders for help when the PC’s arrived with report of more goblins]
Ten Bergjaegers arrive in early afternoon. At this point Captain Zimmerman takes charge from the Bailiff and tells Morgenstein to call up militia (all 10 of them in the village) – but being clear that the eastern farms will keep their men on site.
The Captain interviews the heroes and is puzzled about their news of goblin attacks on dwarf mine. Not that this is surprising but that the goblins divided forces beforehand is not at all like goblins, who like to have as much a numerical advantage as they can and to whom dwarfs are like catnip. Sending half their force south instead of staying in one force to attack the dwarfs is bizarre.
He’s disturbed to be told and see the time marker, saying that the attack on the Bergjaeger outpost started on the same night. There is some coordination of attacks. That’s at the “upper range” of goblin cleverness – tactical ambush sort of coordination is more their forte not strategic planning. This and dividing forces are both strange.
After a quick questioning about their legal status, PC’s are drafted into the Army of Averland, Waldbach Militia. Captain Zimmerman has the authority of the Steward of Grenzstadt and the Elector Count and can draft anyone who is not a noble, in service to a noble, clergy of an official cult, or a tenant farmer (needed to work land and belonging to their landlord effectively). Anyone who is simply a labourer, tradesman or a wandering adventure sort can be compelled into militia.
The Captain is not sure how many goblins threaten the valley. Sergeant Grun saw the mobs attacking the outpost, there were 90 or so. Here too there as an oddity, they were using clay firepots of oil – a more sophisticated fire attack than normal. The Captain hopes the outpost gave a good account of itself and perhaps halved or more the goblin force.
The Captain orders the milita to the northernmost farm that he believes to be threatened and the PC’s to the southernmost. His men will take the central farm. A rider is positioned at each north and south farm (only 2 horses left) to ride for help if there is an attack. The intent defensively is to hold out till relieved.
However the Captain’s real hope is that the forces at each farm will act as advance scouts, looking by day for sign of the goblins (who will likely be moving by night). If the goblins can be spotted and the valley gather its forces together to face them by day that is the best chance of defeating them (depending on how many are pulled from farms, that’s about 20 militia, 10 Bergjaegers and the PCs, then another 20-30 poorly armed farmers and villagers except where a surprise like a family of archers pops up).
Militia means someone with half-decent arms such as a leather jerkin, wood shield and a spear who knows which end of the spear is which, villagers are just folk with makeshift weapons. In practical terms a single militia man is a bit better than a goblin and a single villager a bit worse.
The Captain hopes that others of his detachment survived and are making their way to the village – another patrol was also out when the outpost was attacked, its fate is not known.
The PCs asked the Captain about students and the riders. No one in valley appears to know anything about the students but the Captain says the riders sound like treasure hunters (he speaks contemptuously of the sort – you can spot them by the 10’ poles disguised as spears) hired by Guttman, a merchant in Grenzstadt who funds explorations of dwarf ruins.
[Metagame – Joe’s recollection of a Guttman is likely ‘remembering a past life’ as unless Herr Guttman both came back to life and changed career this is probably not the Witch Hunter Guttman encountered as an animated corpse by another set of adventurers in the Border Princes Territory]
The PCs first go back to Gruber’s and send word to Yadri to expect them in 3 days (the 8th)
That was optimistic.
Matthias decides to cut short his recovery and comes with his comrades to Gronenborn farm. Reached usually by boat across the river at Neiderfeld and then just under 3 miles by trail (1.5 hours normal walk).
The farm has as a mixed wall of rough stone and logs 8’ high. There is one built up point in each corner to look out over it and the upper story of the barn also looks out to the east.
The farm is built on a bluff overlooking a pond in a small (unnavigable) stream that flows down to the Waldbach river (nobody in the valley builds on the river directly as spring flooding makes that foolish). A bucket on wooden arm swings out to fetch up water, it being an 8’ drop down the bluff to the pond.
The Gronenborns are bowyers and fletchers and five of them are effective archers. They loan shortbows to any PCs who want them and have only 1 spare longbow (Otto borrows) and give any using bows 6 superior arrows each. They also have eight hired hands who are able bodied and can heft a pitchfork in a fight. The total population of their farmstead is 17 (compared to Gruber’s 8).
[Metagame – so one farm is a quasi-healing hospice and another produces superior arrows, the valley is not without resources, if only it had a halfing bakery]
Nothing happens that night, the farmers keep watch while the Streissen men rest up.
The next day, the 6th, the heroes go out a patrol, taking one of the Gronenborn’s 3rd generation (teenage boy) as a local guide. It is raining heavily, obscuring vision and risking bowstrings.
They opt to spend a half day on a ‘long range outing’ that takes them into the hills to the south – the Captain believed the goblins would move through the hills to the south or north of the valley rather than come down the more open valley between them.
In the afternoon, Matthias spots three deer running down out of the woods, one wounded with an arrow and just manages to make out ten wolf riders pursuing them (2 gangs of 5). PCs all act before goblins and they hunker down in the brush to hide. The wounded deer falls and one gang of wolf riders stops to butcher it, the other goes on after the other two deer. After they butcher the deer and give scraps to wolves, the riders go back deeper into hills.
PCs trail them, hoping not to have the other gang of riders come up behind them. After a couple of hours they find the wolf riders are moving south-west – past the Gronenborn farm, and are in the trail of/catching up to a larger group of goblins – 50 or so.
The heroes decide this is important, that more goblins survived than hoped but that they appear to be making their way out of the valley or at least past the eastern farms and village. What their destination could be is unclear. And of course, they aren’t eager to meet 50 goblins.
So they return to the farm, pressing themselves (1D athletics) to get there with enough light to send the rider to the Captain (he’s about 3 miles away though the river has to be forded to reach him – the river is not too fast this time of year and a horse can swim it but the rider will get well-soaked).
That night they are awoken by a goblin attack! The Groggy condition of waking and need to put on armour hinders their response time (the entire fight is over by the time Brun is ready). Two gangs of goblins had been creeping up on the walls but were spotted. They are using some sort of puff-fungus that makes victims sluggish (Matthias is affected, as is a farm lookout). They have bows (goblins generally like to use missile weapons and are better with them being more agile than strong) but don’t do much damage before they are shot down by magic missiles and arrows.
We break (a truncated, one misfortune die on recovery roll, night’s sleep will be had)
Post game material:
On the 7th, the Captain arrives with two men before the sun is truly over the horizon the next day. He inspects the dead goblins and hears the tale of the attack. To comments about counting and numbers of goblins he replies these are a different tribe. “That was slack fungus and these fellas are all in black – these are Night Goblins, a different breed, not just different tribe. Live in caves most of the time, don’t mind dark at all, and are crazy even for goblins – you see one whirling a ball and chain either shoot it dead or run.”
So a large body of goblins, of the same tribe that attacked the outpost is moving west either out of the valley or to seal off escape.
And now it’s three tribes cooperating. This puzzles the Captain as it’s starting to look like a WAAAGH! But the goblins on this side of mountains never WAAAGH! No one is sure why not, whether there’s not enough of them or whether they need more orcs. The WAAAGH!s always come from the Badlands or Darklands, which is why Black Fire Pass is so important.
Still, with a new group of goblins having appeared to harass farms, the Captain doesn’t want to pull too many men away from the farms. He orders the men from Streissen, since they are such good trackers and have a shape-shifting wizard among them to see if they can pick up the trail of these goblins again. Are they really leaving the valley, if so where to?
There are no other communities immediately to the south for about 20 miles – the terrain is hills and forest. Then there is a Bergjaeger outpost and some more villages – this is getting closer to Grenzstadt. The closest communities are Kleinsdorf and the Diocese of Hammelfels in the Spechthardt.
Otto observes that this likely means they won’t make their rendezvous with Yadri. The Captain says he will have word sent to the Grubers to let the dwarf know his friend are hunting goblins.
The Captain has a map of Upper Waldbach Valley.