Monday, June 25, 2012

Blundering into Permia

After our intrepid heroes rested & recovered from their wounds & trials of the battle on the river, they had to choose which direction to go. North along the river, south along the river or eastward into the forests were their choices. They ended up heading downstream, north, along the eastern riverbank. During the night they all fell asleep on their watches until morning. They woke to find the last of their horses were gone. (It's become a bit of running joke as they kept losing horses in previous adventures. It's not my fault if they forget the basics.)

Eventually they wound up in a small & devastated village during the horse fair. Traders were there selling horses. First they send the skald, Skolmr (Kevin), into the village to impress them & gather information. He begins a beautiful speech & soon realizes he doesn't understand them & they don't understand him. With the aid of the Sami, Perun (John), they are able to understand the dialect of these distant Nenet relatives of the Sami. The villages story is a harsh one: They are frequently raided from Permia who take villagers as slaves, steal half or more of their crops, and visit all sorts of dire curses upon the village. They agree to help guide the party to a road that leads straight to the capital of Kuupoloh and offer them hospitality. There the two remaining squires follow Mar back to the Baltic Seacoast: the squires to wait upon the return of the party & Mar to join the Kievan expedition as their blacksmith where he shall win great fame & fortune & study Late Roman armor making techniques. The remaining party is even are gifted with two horses: one a bright black mare with a lively step from an attractive young woman & an old swayback dun from a poor old grandmother. Arvarodd (Nate) asks for Tyr's (Larry) advice as to who should get the black & who should get the dun. Tyr advises put Siv (Karen) upon the swayback dun & the maid (who is now also Skolmr's fiance) upon the lively black horse. Arvarodd says "Hah" and immediately does the reverse of Tyr's advice, so now Siv is upon the black.

They have not traveled far up the road to Kuupoloh when trouble comes a courting. First Tyr is tempted to once again offend the Gods, leaving a brief opening in their magical protection. Immediately Skolmr spots the house on chicken legs heading toward them. A swift small cloud proceeds this horror. Arvarodd turns to face this on-rushing danger when the horses go wild. Tyr manages to grab hold of the panicking dun which turns into Siv's white charger as its magical disguise fades away. The black turns into an evil metal beast that glues Siv to it's back & races off up the road. Quick thinking & mighty magics by Skolmr stops the beast by charming it with his powerful music. Perun further slows it by convincing a small spirit elemental to aid him by causing the beast to sink into the earth. Arvarodd races to catch up & leaps onto the beast & finds himself glued. His mighty arms struggle to crush the animal but still he fails to overwhelm the beast. The clever cloud sets itself upon Skolmr, smothering him & stinging him with lightning causing his spells to fail. The beast breaks free and starts running at blinding speeds towards Kuupoloh. Meanwhile Perun rescues Skolmr with a beautiful flying tackle, but each in turn are beaten into unconsciousness by walking house. Tyr rescues the maid & the white horse but is also knocked senseless as his wife, Gerd fights a valiant & heroic, but futile defense of her husband.

Tyr wakes to find himself alone save for his battered & unconscious wife. He heals her and decides after taking counsel with her to head back toward the trading post on the Baltic seacoast where they had left their ship. Luck is with him for their he barters for an abandoned longship & begins the arduous task of repairing it as Gerd recovers.He takes the quires under his protection as well & trains them & a local boy in the art of shipbuilding to earn his keep.

Perun & Skolmr begin a long trip north east along the road to Kuupoloh haunted by a the occasional appearance of a hideous black flying creature. Meanwhile Arvarodd & Siv are flown to the dark & fell capital of Permia. As the beast descends Arvarodd manages a truly heroic feat of strength & breaks the flying beast which crashes into the courtyard amidst 50 or more hostile troops. Bravely Arvarodd tells his beloved Siv to run & save herself and raise their son to be a hero. She escapes through a door & he seals it behind her by impaling it shot with the magic sword & breaking it off.  He faces the oncoming enemy & fells 8 of them before he loses an arm. Still he fights on & cleaves another two before at last he falls with a great blow to the head. A despondent Siv wanders the corridors until at last she stumbles into a maid's quarters. She is offered food, drink, & safety but as she realizes she has been drugged she sees the false "maid" change into a dark & sinister queen.

She awakes to realize that she is chained to a wall of a dank foul dungeon cell. Laughing evilly the dark queen of Permia says she has taken her unborn baby from Siv's womb & sacrificed it to the dark God of Destruction. The queen demands information from her & Siv valiantly refuses to answer. After the queen leaves she grieves for her baby ripped from her womb, for the gallant Arvarodd, & her fate. Slight comfort comes to her when a slave woman who is told by the queen to end Siv & keep her well enough to answer questions whispers to her that the Queen was tricked & the babies (yes there was a boy & a girl) were secreted from the fortress & taken far away for they both bore the mark of the one who shall finally destroy the evil Queen. Siv's torture continues day after day until at last moved by pity the slavegirl give Siv a potion that feigns death. Skolmr & Perun have at last approached the city & begun scouting it out. As they do they see Siv's "body" tossed over the ramparts into a boggy mass grave. They rescue her & through incredibly healing luck & the Perun's shamanic skill they summon her soul back into her body & heal her. Realizing that a broken bit of the magic sword is stuck to her ragged clothing they return to the grave pit & search until they find Arvarodd's body. Siv jumps on his body & says that she is his Valkyrie & that she has not given him permission to leave this world yet. That as well as Perun's shamanic skill is able to recover Arvarodd's Spirit back into his body leaving him alive but still mangled. But Odhinn is not done with Arvarodd yet. a strange tingling is affecting where his missing limbs should be........

------- Notice -----
There will be a bit longer pause than usual as I will be off attending the Tall Trees Mountainman Rondezvous in the Syskiyou mountains.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Catching up, Running Away, & Lucky Rolls

Sorry that it's been a while since I blogged, but my account had "issues" that now seem to be resolved - crossing fingers. Plus I was gone for nigh 3 weeks with VA hospital stuff (small surgeries went well & they probably won't do the big one), visiting friends, going to Enfilade, & escaping the abuse at home.

YAY with the aid of Daryl (Painting & Rules), William & John (Terrain), the Kalvan of Otherwhen game went wonderfully & we won "Best of Show- period 3" at Enfilade!  WOOT! My Polemos Mythic Armies game went very well other than my beautiful Red Dragon getting rocked to sleep by stones from 4 Frost Giants.

The new "Blackpowder - Pike & Shotte" rules from Warlord Games came out & I've heard lots of complements regarding my maps that were used. I'm rather proud of them myself & I've been asked for more cartographic help for their next book! Plus I also finished another 10 maps for GHQ & their reprint of Microsquad and was asked to do the maps for the reissue of Microarmour.

SAGA from Gripping Beast is a really great game & my latest gaming focus. I'm almost done with a 6 point  Viking Army & then will do an Anglo-Saxon army (with an Uthred of course! - YAY Bernard Cornwell & his Saxon Shores series of books). So let me encourage all of you to take a look at this Dark Ages Skirmish game with some really innovative mechanisms. Daryl & I played two games & both resolved in less than an hour even just learning the rules. Fast but with a lot of depth. Heck Kevin could even inveigle me to paint an army for him if he'd play.

Also from the same Designers comes "Musket & Tomahawk" for those into the "Last of the Mohicans" and uses some similar design motifs.

Well the Catch-up.
After regrouping & recouping at Skaldby the party decided to help Skolmr fufill his family quest & set sail across the Baltic & journey to Permia. They play tag with a large warship that appears to follow them & hide up a river. A nervous night is spent when they see the ship pull to shore near them & they hear wolves howling in the distance. The stress ruins everyone's sleep & due to fatigue & misfortune by Tyr they manage to twist the boat & jam it crosswise in the river. Fortunately Tyr falls in the river. With much grunting & groaning they clear the jam & the ship floats out into the bay leaving Siv stranded on it. Skolmr, Tyr, Mar, & Arvarodd try to swim for the boat but nearly drown. Just then the large black warship appears at the mouth of the bay - more panic ensues, then an embarrassed hush as the warship sails blithely along taking no notice of them. HeHe! I'm so evil.

Eventually they recover the boat & set sail across the Baltic toward what is now St Petersburg but then was just a miserable little trading post. As they reach the coast of Finland the exhausted sailors camp on the shore where they make friends with Perun, a wandering Sami hunter & shaman (also known as John who will now join our group). Perun has wild red hair & an even wilder history that will reveal itself at inconvenient times. At last they reach the Trading Post and engage an older man to guide them to Permia - far inland to the Northeast. While waiting Mar gets involved working with some Warriors who are planning an expedition to Kiev to conquer & start a new settlement a new settlement there. They are lead by a big red haired man (another one) named Rhus!

No roads lead across the mosquito infested marshes & bogs of the wilderness so the party trusts to their guide to lead them through the maze of groves, islands, lakes, swamps, & morasses. One night they set up camp near a small island that appears to have large standing figures of wood on it.

Running Away Oops I mean Tactical Retreat
The party wanders out to the island that is surrounded by ancient worn wooden figures that are almost unrecognizable. In the center lies an obvious sacrificial stone altar at the base of a 20 foot tall pillar of four faces - each face has a different deity carved into it. One face is a bold looking fellow with a hammer & lightning bolts, another a very fecund woman with grain sheaves, another a very phallic male and lastly a dark & grim foreboding looking man. Tyr decides his best bet is to offend the most dangerous looking deity. Instantly the party panics into action. Most fleeing, but Arvarodd tries to appease the Gods by words. When Words don't work he thinks he can appease the Gods by hacking the penis off the ipyphallic God-figure & using it as a club. When that doesn't cheer up the Gods he decides to calm the situation by plunging his sword into the altar stone (don't ask me why he chose to do that he just did) & there it stuck rather like another legend that will take place in a few years on an island to the west of here, LOL) The ground begins to shake and in the distance a hut on stilts appears to be approaching them. The group decides to get gone from here now that they've stirred the hornets but Arvarodd stays to guard the rear & prevent the attack of a dark hulking (he swears it was a giant - add 10 feet & it might be a small one) figure bearing a flaming club. Suddenly a thick fog blankets everything & everyone - no-one can see any one else. The panic thickens like the fog. Everyone is lost as Arvarodd battles the (ahem) giant & manages to just barely pull his sword from the stone. (A damn 1% chance but he manages to do it - the miserable Sassenauk). Between his dickhead club & his sword & a clumsy move on the part of the (ahem) giant that breaks the large statue in half Arvarodd is triumphant. Meanwhile everyone else is lost and hearing voices of their loved ones in the fog. Some are fooled & some are not. Tyr manages for the first time to rescue his wife by pulling on the chain that she drags him around by. Skolmr falls into the trap of a Leshy -water spirit & nearly drowns. Siv falls off her horse & lands on her butt that knocks some sense into her head. Perun blunders lost until he finds a friendly tree that picks him up & rescues him & helps him conjure a warm southerly wind that will eventually disperse the fog. After much struggle Siv manages with an assist by Arvarodd to rescue Skolmr.

Lucky Rolls
The next morning they notice that the guide is gone & one of the apprentices they had brought along is floating dead in a pool - obviously lost to a Leshy. Of the guide no sign (nor of his horse) is ever found. The party blunders on until they come across a very large party (5 score) of local hunters & merchants holding two chained giantesses near a ferry crossing a river that flows north (that's a clue boys & girls). They are very lovely & about 20 feet tall & chained to large mill stones & 20 men each hold them down with cruel chains. When the part y approaches the ferry & tries to get past the group they are belligerently told to wait. Arvarodd decides to challenge the leader! Cool, Lucky Pierre Oops I mean Lucky Arvarodd decapitates the fellow in one shot. (Heavy & long sigh - there goes another dramatic situation with out even a speed bump). The followers shoot arrows & attack the Party. Arvarodd takes several arrows to the leg & falls. Eventually luck favors the party & Perun manages to hit several of the guards holding the Giantesses who then manage to free themselves & assist in the slaughter of their former captors. Fortune favors them & all are rescued & the local Wends driven off. Before disappearing into the river, the two sisters take their grindstones & give council and promises of aid to the party that helped free them. What will the future bring?