Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two long trips home

The party starts packing up for the return trip to Skaldby from the Haugrthing. Arvarodd buys a cart & pony to carry all their new possessions including Mars blacksmithing supplies, Tyrs wifes' dowry, and other assorted goods. Mar gives Tyr a spindly pony (the period equivalent of a KIA) as wedding gift so his bride may ride in Viking-Socker-Mom style. AS they are packing up a friendly skald approaches Skolmr and warns him of a rumor that the Gangermeinn intend to erect Nidthing poles (curse poles) somewhere hidden in the area. Ulfar enlists Skolmr's aid in finding a potential spouse and with luck two candidates are located. The challenge is that Ulfar has no great heroic name yet despite being acknowledged nor has he the means to pay a bride-price.  Alas though the two women have moderate dowries they are much to plain for Ulfar's taste.

They complete the first part of their journey back the boat & face a quandry. They need a bigger boat than the glorified rowboat that they own. So Arvarodd, Siv, Tyr & his wife, & the handful of retainers will go back by the faster boat while Skolmr will lead Ulfar and Mar back by land with the horse, both ponies, & the cart.

The first day out of Oslo along the trail is quiet and the trio spend a very relaxing evening at a friendly hearthstead. Skolmr learns some history of this unpretentious pile of rocks. After a nice rest, they party up with others traveling south & midday into their travels are passed by some toughs on horses traveling fast. By good fortune blesses Skolmr and he recognizes them as part of the Gangermeinn contingent. Expecting trouble the party barely manages to spot a clever ambush. Skolmr alerts the caravan of travellers and Mar & Ulfar in the nick of time. At his command he creates a lager to block the road & rides forth to parlay. When he demands for the "Bandits" to send forth their envoys - he receives 5 of them, and he parries all but two of them. With the aid of brave Mar he retreats back to the lager of wagons. Ulfar attempts to sneak around behind the ambush & runs into a pair of guards who he handily defeats. While closing in behind the ambushers he in turn is attacked from behind by a large wolf who bites his head near off. Ulfar rolls down the hill and falls on the road. Skolmr courageously rescues his unconscious body and after more arrows a standoff develops and as the day dims the ambushers retreat leaving the party on the road to make camp.

The next 3 days are marked by slow progress and a large wolf paralleling the travelers. A days journey north of Skaldby the party camps at the old burned out village and their Ulfar is overtaken by strange dreams. He has visions of flying at a great height and looking down across forests and cold swampy plains towards a large gold encrusted temple. As he approaches terrifying pale white hands reach up out of the ground and grasp toward him. He is not the only one to suffer visions though; as the next day, Mar stumbles and falls. While unconscious he flashes on large women striding across the landscape. Finally they reach home to find the boat still hasn't returned and a swift raid by horsemen has hit Skaldby! Plus a curse has been carved into the door of the main hall which they set about replacing & preparing to reconsecrate.

Meanwhile the boat party has hit a bit of a snag on their second day of travel. The Gods of chance have snitted Siv and a whale surfaces underneath the boat. Tyr attempts to hold onto the rudder but the boat is thrown sideways and everyone save Siv is thrown overboard. The mast breaks & sweeps Tyr over the side. Tyr is caught between the whale & the boat and knocked around a bit which probably leads to his silly decision to swim the long way around to the other side to find his wife rather than climbing on back on board & throwing a line to her. Siv being much more practical rights the boat & flings lines out to Arvarodd & the other people. Finally a desperate drowning Tyr is hauled out of the water by his own wife who had swam back to the boat immediately & had been waiting for him to get his head together. Siv manages to guide Tyr into patching the leaking and mastless boat & she steers it back to a lonesome beach where they will spend the next 6 days making repairs and re-stepping a jury mast. The unconcious Arvarodd is kept warm while Siv assumes command. While hunting Siv comes across a lonely farmstead and receives grave council and glimpses of the future. At last they are able to complete their journey home.

The first order of business after re-uniting the friends is to reconsecrate the hall to Odhinn. A sickly and blind old man even offers to give up his life in sacrifice. (All due to some incredibly lucky rolls Damn-it!, thus derailing a whole plot line I had prepared, LOL!)

The nights business done most everyone departed while Kevin (Skolmr) & Larry (Tyr) helped me with an experiment in the Mythic Russia variant of HeroQuest2. They wrote their 100 word description and we converted them to character sheets. Thanks guys. I've gotten them typed up now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Strange Thing! or how to make a GM cry!

Saturdays adventure was almost rained out. Gale Force winds, power outages, Flooding rivers bursting their banks were braved by me to drive the 40+ miles down to host the game.

After refreshing the players memories about previous events the party was ready to face judgment & drama at the Haugrthing (Hold your horses right there! The Althing is the one in Iceland) in Vestfold. Two major murder trials, two inheritance issues, land rights all involving members of the party were on the docket. It was a promising start; Starkaddr (the npc who was befriended by the party & has linked them to all sorts of enemies now) was antagonizing pretty much everyone at the Thing. In an effort to win friends & influence people, Arvarodd decides to emulate Starkaddr's charm & endearing qualities by insulting the Gangrmann tribe by having a drinking contest instead of a weregeld or a trial. Fortunately Skolmr the Bard intercedes before things get really ugly. In a quest worthy of "Sex & the City" Mar goes shopping - admittedly for things a bit sturdier than any of those New Yorkers would consider attractive, but they'll work just fine at his forge.

In epic negotiations Skolmr works with the Skald representing Jarl Jaugr enemy of Tyrwald (the slain Hersir of Skaldby - uncle of Arvarodd, father of the Ulfar, foster-father of Siv etc). Jaugr is reminded that the quarrel was with Tyrwald who is now most horridly dead & not Arvarodd. He brokers a deal where the cursed amulet is given as weregeld to an unwitting Jaugr, who in return sends some excess tradesmen and population to Skaldby to resettle there & rebuild the village. He also sends along some cattle, goats, sheep, etc to aid the process. Along with the cattle a wife is found for Tyr the shipwright who is warned to keep him chained up at night. She's a regular Iron-Range type woman as broad as she is fair (those from Minnesota will get that one) & she can pick up Tyr one handed. During the course of the Haugrthing she will repeated deliver a cuff to the back of Tyr's head to keep him in line. This crisis has been settled to everyone's benefit.

Next Ulfar steps forward & claims his rights at Tyrwald's son. Mar stands as witness and likewise does Tyr after an impassioned speech! There is almost trouble when Ulfar claims the right of Hersir by inheritance, but no one stands for him. The party stands for Arvarodd & the very popular Siv as Hersir & Fro. Jaugr wanting to keep stability and the deal also speaks for Arvarodd. The Law council sides for Arvarodd who then as a compromise makes Ulfar his heir if he falls suddenly until his replacement can be settled by acclamation. This suits everyone just fine and leaves just one final crisis to be dealt with...

The trial of Starkaddr! The Gangrmann accuse Starkaddr and the party of "Secret Killing" - that is Murder. Arvarodd and Skolmr ackowledge that some Gangrmann were slain and witnesses from other villages are called forth to testify that Skolmr, Arvarodd, & Siv had publicly announced the killings and thus they were not secret and the party can not be charged with murder. Starkaddr, indifferently acknowledges that he killed the Gangrmann Godhi some 40 years before though he looks but in his early twenties. The Gangrmann claim foul magic and demand a huge sum of weregeld for their fallen kinsman that would ruin Skaldby. Finally after much back and forth, impassioned speeches (especially by Tyr who is repeatedly cuffed in the back of his head by his new bride) the Lawspeaker agrees to arbitrate by judicial duel. Though Starkaddr and his foe select the highly ritual Holmgang, Arvarodd elects for an all out, no holds barred Einvigi (as opposed to Ein Veggie - which is part of a well balanced diet). Starkaddrs duel is prolonged with much blood spilled on both sides. When his foes is finally knocked down unconscious, his kinsmen quickly cover him with blankets & scurry him off to "recover". To preserve the peace Starkaddr will still be sentenced to a 3 year banishment. Next come the duel to first blood between Arvarodd and a Gangrmann. Due to amazingly lucky rolls by Nate (Arvarodd), the clever application of a hero point, & amazingly bad rolls by me, the duel is quickly over with the Gangrmann thrown to the ground. This was truly disappointing to me as I had hoped for a nice protracted battle. Arvarodd quickly takes the magic dog-collar & puts it around the Gangrmann's throat, who then of course turns into a wolf. Surprise surprise! Since the dark magic nature of the Gangrmann is now revealed in full court, other interested tribes with longstanding feuds against them are quick to anger. The Gangrmann call foul & try to blame the change on Arvarodd & call him an evil wizard full of dark magics. Arvarodd releases his opponent & puts the collar on another (Ulfar) who does not change which then gives the judicial victory to the party but earns him the undying enmity of the Gangrmann. Such fun to come from this! Because of the weather we called it an early night and headed for snug, warm beds.