Sunday, May 19, 2013

Savage Midnight: The Crown of Shadow Actual Play Volume 3


Volume 1
Volume 2

WARNING!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR CROWN OF SHADOW BELOW!

The game picked up immediately where it had left off, with the group standing in the sewers with a black-eyed elf who introduced himself as Jael. Thorin asked if Jael was "they guy we needed to give the scroll case to", but Jael seemed confused by that and said he was their escort to Caradul.

Thorin, Merwan, Wendell, Wallace, Fergus and Jael departed from the site of Baden's Bluff, with Jael asking Thorin about their mission and their travels, but getting stone walled by the dwarf. Jael changed the subject and told the group that he would guide them through the western plains and into Erethor, so long as they followed his trail.

On the second night of camp, Merwan went searching for fresh game, while Jael commented that he needed to "commune with his monarch". Wallace and Thorin had a long chat, with Wallace explaining that he is from the shattered Dorn house of Dale, explaining that his family motto was "Against the Shadow". He told Thorin that he has no idea what Thorin's quest is, but that he is the last of his house, his family destroyed by The Shadow...but he will help Thorin cut a swath across the land as long as he is working against the forces of Izrador. Thorin explained that he is the last of his clan as well, as is Wendell. Fergus said he has no tribe, and Thorin said "maybe you do now". Thorin spotted Wallace looking for big rocks that he was stuffing in a sack tied to his belt. Thorin asked Wallace what they were for, and Wallace said "crushing men's heads." Wallace told Thorin that someday, he knows the forces of The Shadow will bring him down, but not before the fields are soaked with blood and bodies are stacked high. But he said that, before he goes, legend tells that one of Izrador's favored is a dragon...and Wallace dearly wants to rip that dragon's head from its shoulders. This led into an odd tangent between Wallace and Thorin, in which Thorin said he couldn't fly, but Wallace patted him on the shoulder and said, earnestly, "I believe you can."

When Merwan returned with rabbits, he mentioned that the game seemed spooked, and Jael arrived then, stating that it was the presence of the orcs, and that they needed to be careful. He said that warbands were amassed in the area. Wallace asked if they were going to go THROUGH the warbands, and scoffed when he was told "no". Thorin noted that sometimes, you need to avoid a smaller battle in order to win the war, showing lessons that he had learned thus far in the quest.

The group's travels led them closer to the forests, and Jael showed an amazing knack for guiding the group past the orcs. As the group spotted what looked like a whole army amassed near the forests, Thorin asked why the forces were amassed so strongly against the elves. Jael laughed coldly, saying that the dwarves are locked away in their mountains, every human of consequence has joined Izrador, the gnomes are busy playing their games on the river and no one gives halflings a real thought. In short, the elves are the only true resistance to the Shadow left, and once they are gone, the war ends. Merwan and Wallace told Jael that maybe he shouldn't count their respective people out just yet.

Exploring the forests, they came across what appeared to be a snowy valley...except for the small of ash that choked them. This massive valley inside the forest was a stretch of land that had been utterly burnt out. When the group tried to figure out what could have caused such complete devastation, Wallace - his eyes wide - simply said "Dragon." As the group tried to cross the valley, their eyes burned and they tasted ash, so Merwan shredded his clock, giving them all facial coverings. The only signs of anything resembling life they encountered was halfway through the valley, where they encountered a burnt out village. Thorin was immediately nervous regarding the possibility of the dead rising, but the devastation looked too complete.

As the group entered the deeper forests, Jael said that they needed to double up on their watches, to ensure that nothing was missed...and one night later, the group was awoken by a panicked Wendell Gale, who said that Jael had vanished in battle with a demon that sounded a lot like the demons that were possessing Tuk's hunting dogs. The group investigated, and saw only scorch marks on the ground. They were now lost without their elven guide.

The next day, they stumbled across a battlefield of orcs and elves, all of them missing heads, but the elves missing limbs here and there as well. Upon closer examination, Merwan swore under his breath and told Thorin that some of the deceased had gotten up and walked away...after laying for days. The orcs stumbled to the southeast...but the elves headed west...where the group was heading. Thorin suggested that they track the elves, thinking they might take the group to Caradul after all.

It didn't take long for the group to be staring down an armed elf with open wounds, who told the group that they were surrounded and being taken captive to Caradul. Wendell tried to parlay with them, but it did not work. As tensions grew too think, Merwan snapped off an arrow that staggered the elf. Arrows flew from all directions, with Wallace crushing one from a distance with a hurled rock and Wendell fired a bolt that took another. Merwan shrugged off an arrow and took his elf with a second shot, while Wendell took out the last archer. On closer examination, the elves wounds looked to be at least days old, filling the group with some satisfaction that maybe these elves were already dead.

Early the next day, the group heard fighting and animal howls. When Fergus went to investigate, he saw two dead dire wolves, perforated with elven arrows and magical scorch marks.

As they traveled on, Wendell staggered and suddenly acted confused and ill. The group saw a structure overhead, an elven outpost, and Merwan took Wendell up to rest...when the vines they climbed on retracted and it suddenly got very dark. Merwan moved to the edge of the platform and began to yell down at the group when he was stabbed from behind! For a moment, Thorin saw Wendell Gale holding a longsword, but  then he transformed into a tall, lean Sarcosan! As Merwan staggered back to the platform, the man with the sword hooked it under the scroll case's strap. Thorin began to scream at him, when Wallace grabbed him and said "I believe you can fly."

Thorin stared at Wallace for a moment and then nodded, and the giant of a man hurled Thorin up onto the platform with an amazing feat of strength. As Thorin hurtled through the air, he swung with a hatchet and drove it clean through the assailant's chest, whose last image of life was a flying dwarf, screaming through the air. (Thorin's player rolled a whopping 70 damage on the attack and I made the token effort to make two Soak rolls, but failed.)

On the ground, three massive dire bears approached Fergus and Wallace, so Thorin and Merwan made haste back to the forest floor...and then elves joined the dire bears. Merwan was prepared to strike, when a black eyed elf stepped forward, smiling, and waved off the bears and the elves. He announced himself as Dehan, and said that the elves had been expecting the group. Then he sadly offered his condolences, as the elves recovered the body of Wendell Gale a few days ago. Dehan referred to the attacker as "Jael", which raised questions from Merwan. Dehan informed them that Jael was a Legate that took the form of an elf in order to trick the group, before manufacturing his own disappearance, killing Wendell and replacing him.

The elves took the group to Caradul, to the heart of the ancient city, to the Arbor of the Witch Queen. The elves buzzed with excitement at the new arrivals, and when the group encountered the Queen herself, she greeted the weary travelers and asked them if they had something for her. Merwan handed her the Dragon Case and the uttered some words, animating the dragon, who removed the scrolls from inside it. She asked the group if they knew what they had brought, and when they said "no", she replied "The most ancient of dwarven secrets: The secret of forging mithral." Thorin was left speechless.

She brought the group each a perfectly fitted cloak, marking them as members of the Order of the Lady, the highest honor bestowed on outlanders. She also offered each a token of her own devising, and Dehan led them to a suite, telling them to rest, to heal, to mourn, and that they were free to stay as long as the like...forever, if they chose.

At their suite, Wallace said "I ain't stayin' here." Thorin said "Of course not. We have a dragon to slay." Merwan said "If nothing is done, war will eventually reach this ancient place. I shall die, if necessary, to prevent that." Fergus simply said "This is my tribe. I will go where they go."

Notes: The final battle with Jael was meant to be a bigger deal, but Thorin's player had a Teamwork Adventure Card that worked beautifully in getting him to the platform (giving Wallace a bonus on the throw and him a bonus on the attack), and then the damage just absolutely exploded, taking Jael out in one hit. The stage is set for the next phase in the campaign, and we do intend to come back to it, as we are loving the mix of Savage Worlds and Midnight. Not sure exactly what direction it'll take...but I'm pretty sure a dragon will be involved.