Almaric's Tale

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Almaric's Tale
Not sure if anyone will be interested but here's the story of a young warrior called Almaric and some of his adventures in the Known Lands. This is the cobbled together postings of a series of one-on-one adventures that I am running for one of my gaming club members via our club forums. The forums are member only so I'm compiling and pasting the story here so that others may see what can be done without a group of players. Hopefully it will make sense - just assume that the game is being played out along the lines of a 'Fighting Fantasy'-style choose your own adventure and a regular gaming session. The idea was to use this as a way for a new player to be gently (yeah, right!) introduced into the Adventurer Conqueror King System while using the narrative as a way to entice others to give it a try. Time will tell if I succeed on any point... adidas Mutator
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While travelling the roads in the Duchy of Valnwall, not long out of the city of Dolmvay, you hear of some activity near the small village of Larm, a few days travel to the north-east. Rumours are that adventure and wealth are to be had amongst the Barrowlands of the Ancients, but nothing you would be able to handle alone. Still, you figure that where there’s tombs, there’s treasure and where there’s treasure, there’s liable to be adventuring parties in need of a strong sword arm and steady nerves. This could be your chance to be part of another company of heroes, only time will tell, but first you have to get there. Your thoughts of what the future might hold are rudely interrupted when the reality of the present grabs your attention. Only the fact that you are on horseback allowed you to spot the body. Lying partially in a ditch just off the roadway is a man wearing a suit of damaged chain mail, three broken arrows piercing his leg and back. At first you think he is dead, but at the sound of your horse he calls out to you, summoning you to his side.

His breathing is laboured and you’ve seen enough battlefield wounds to know that at least one of those arrows found his lungs.

“Listen.”, he says through pain-wracked gasps. “I am a Guardsman of the Duke…, part of a patrol that was ambushed further up the road… My commander sent me with a message to take to the fort - we learned… that the Goblins of this area are planning an ambush.”

A cough brings crimson froth to his lips.

“If you are a true and loyal citizen… please... take this message to the fort... a day’s journey… down the road. There… will be danger… and peril, but… the fort… must… be saved… Here... take it!”

He thrusts a blood-spattered piece of parchment into your hand, bound with the seal of the Duke’s Guard. While you are looking at it, the guard breathes his last. You look at him, the scroll, and the long road ahead, and decide to honour his last request. Pulling some stones over the guard’s dead body, to prevent him from being taken by scavengers, you quickly leave him, and hasten down the road.

After an hour of uneventful travel, you begin to get thirsty, and decide to take a drink from a nearby stream. While you are watering your horse at the stream, you notice a small path that seems to be a more direct route down the road. It leads through some woodland a few hundred yards ahead, which the road avoids. If you take the path you could save valuable time, but there could be danger within.

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Almaric's Tale: Along the road
As his horse continues to drink, Almaric scans the ground around him, searching for any clues that may indicate what lies ahead or what has passed this way. After ten fruitless minutes he has determined only one thing: that although he may have survival skills, they do not extend towards tracking anything beyond following a game trail.

[/OOC: Tracking is a proficiency that you do not currently have. Survival allows you to survive in the wilds by foraging for food and water for yourself (without a roll) or 1d6 people (with a roll of 18+) whilst on the move. With survival you can also actively hunt animals, but without tracking this is limited to following pre-defined game trails (on a roll of 14+), this provides food for 2d6 people but effectively takes all day. If there are any obvious trails I will let you know, otherwise assume that whatever signs may or may not be present, they currently elude your abilities. Nice try 8)]

With a sigh and shake of his head, Almaric gathers his horse's reins and mount up again. The road leads off in a straight line, and the stream begins to parallel it. Obviously the builders took advantage of this, for the stream can be used for drinking, or watering horses - a fact that you can gratefully attest to. Pointing Osgar's head along the road, Almaric gees his steed into a steady trot. Progress is faster than walking and he can see further than afoot but he is all too aware of the noise the hooves make as he travels onwards, his eyes constantly scanning the hedgerows and treelines for possible trouble.

After a half hour’s travel, Almaric can see a bridge in the distance, where the stream makes a turn. It seems to be guarded by two short figures. The stream evidently gets considerably deeper at that point - there is no other way around it. He reins his horse in and considers his options. They do not (as yet) appear to have noticed him...

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Almaric's Tale: Bridge approach
Slipping slowly from his saddle, Almaric quietly leads Osgar off the roadway and tethers him out of sight behind some bushes. With a quick glance around at his surroundings, he draws his bow from it's straps on his pack and with a deft, practised motion, effortlessly strings it. Placing his quiver across his back, he transfers his bow to his right hand as he takes up his shield in the left and then quickly checks that axe and quiver are seated securely and unlikely to snag on the undergrowth. With one last look around to confirm that he is still unobserved, Almaric offers a gentle word to his mount's twitching ear and with a reassuring pat to his neck, he hunkers down and begins to make his way back through the bushes towards the road.

Keeping as low as he can whilst still making headway, Almaric stops about 230 feet away from the bridge. From his hiding spot he can now see that the two small figures by the bridge are indeed, goblins. They look as if they are guarding the bridge, and if the spears they are toting are any indication, chances are they are expecting trouble. Since he is currently beyond the effective range of his longbow, Almaric attempts to close the distance whilst (hopefully) still remaining hidden.

[/OOC Move Silently roll: Need 18+, Rolled [**], Goblin #1 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**], Goblin #2 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**] ]

Almaric creeps closer, closing the gap by 15' - they show no signs of alarm. Yet. Steadying his breathing, he presses onwards with his stealthy approach.

[/OOC Move Silently roll: Need 18+, Rolled [**], Goblin #1 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**], Goblin #2 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**]]

With a start, Almaric's heart shudders as a low branch he had pressed away to allow access, suddenly slips his grasp and with a (to his ears at least) all-too audible thwack, slaps against his shield. Stopping in his tracks, he nervously watches the goblins.

Nothing.

Letting his breath out in a silent prayer, Almaric edges another 15' closer.

[/OOC Move Silently roll: Need 18+, Rolled [**], Goblin #1 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**], Goblin #2 Hear Noise roll: Need **, Rolled [**]]

He is sure he is quieter this time but one of the goblins snaps his head towards Almaric's direction. He says something to his companion, which although Almaric can understand their odd tongue, he is unable to quite make it out at this range. The one that spoke is now moving towards him, leaving his compatriot at his post.

[/OOC You are now in the bushes, 185' away from the bridge (and Goblin #2). Goblin #1 has closed the gap to you and is at 155'.]

/GM NOTE: Whenever you see a ** next to either a Need or a Rolled, it means that either the target number is not known to you (you're trying something you have no idea will or won't work) or the result is something you would not in reality be able to judge. Basically it's the GM rolling stuff and you hoping my rolls suck!

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Almaric's Tale - Taking on the Goblins
Almaric ducks down, mentally counting off the paces the creature is taking towards him. When he estimate it is close enough for him to get a better shot, Almaric nocks an arrow and peeks out.

He can see that the closest Goblin has continued to search for him and is now just 95' away, while his friend is still back at the bridge watching his back.

[/OOC Surprise roll for Goblin #1: 1d6 rolled for a total of: 6 (6) (no modifiers because although you were hiding, he knows he saw something out there) Result: Not surprised
Surprise roll for Goblin #2: 1d6 rolled for a total of: 4 (4) (no modifiers because although you were hiding, his buddy put him on alert) Result: Not surprised]

Just as Almaric is about to release his arrow, his target's beady eyes spot him.

[/OOC Goblin #1 is 95' away, Goblin #2 is still at the bridge some 185' away.
Roll for initiative, Round 1: You rolled 1d20+1 for a total of: 18 (17, +1), Result: 18 The Goblins: 1d20 rolled for a total of: 10 (10)+*, Result: 10]

/GM NOTE: We use a d20 for initiative rather than ACKS normal d6 because in group games we found it gave a wider spread of rolls and less chance of simultaneous results.

Before the Goblin can react, Almaric lets fly...

[/OOC Give me a Roll to hit. There is no -1 range penalty, it's 0 for Short Range (70'), -2 for Medium Range (140') and -5 for Long Range (up to 210'). I chose this distance for your action because the next round he would have been well within Short and you wouldn't have been able to get a shot off before it went to melee. You now need to roll your shot. In your reply, give me some text along the lines of:
Bow shot at Goblin #1, /roll 1d20

Note: We have some dice rolling code in our forums that allows us to embed rolls directly into a post. I'll break it down as combat progresses. It becomes clearer as we go on, honest.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 1

[/OOC You need a 9+ to hit. You rolled an 8, which is modified by the range (-2) and the Goblins armour (-*).
You miss.]

Almaric's arrow zips past the Goblin's ear - close but no time to think of it further. He drops his bow and grabs his axe as he leaps to his feet and begins running towards his slightly taken aback foe, issuing forth a battle-cry in the Goblin's own native tongue.

[/OOC You close the distance between you and Goblin #1 by 30' (your combat movement), you are 65' apart. If you had not attacked this round you could have done a full run and closed it by 90']

The Goblin picks up the pace and gripping his spear double-handed, charges at Almaric, replying with his own high-pitched cry of "You die-die, peenkskin!"

[/OOC Goblin #1 attempts to charge at you with his spear.]

[/RULES
CHARGING
Under some circumstances, combatants may be allowed to attack after a running move. This is called a charge, and some specific limitations apply. First, the charging combatant must move at least 20', and may move up to triple his combat movement rate, as given above. The movement must be in a more or less straight line toward the intended target, and the path to the target must be reasonably clear. If the charging combatant does not have line of sight to the opponent at the start of the charge, that opponent can’t be charged.

The attack made after the charge is made with a +2 bonus on the attack throw. The charging combatant takes a -2 penalty to Armour Class until the next time his initiative number comes up. Certain weapons, including spears, lances, and pole arms, are especially suitable for use while charging, as are the natural attacks of certain monsters, especially including those with horns. These attacks deal double damage on a successful charge.

[/OOC Even after doubling his combat movement, Goblin #1 has miscalculated and comes up short by a mere 5' (even including the length of his spear!) You are now 5' apart and if you win initiative next round Goblin #1 will still be suffering a -2 penalty to his AC.]

Just as the first Goblin is about to reach him, Almaric can see the other one back at the bridge set off towards him as well.

[/OOC Goblin #2 does a full run and closes the gap by 60', he is 125' away.]

Almaric takes stock of the situation.

[/OOC You are 5' away from Goblin #1, 125' from Goblin #2.
Next round I need you to roll 1d20+1 for initiative.
Also, I need a 1d20 roll in case you get to attack.
To save time, give me 3 x 1d20 rolls at the end of each post and I'll use them in the order I need them (if any), that should hopefully cover skill checks, attacks, saves, etc. and help speed things up.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 2

[/OOC The initiative rolls are: Almaric (4+1=5), Goblin #1 (4), Goblin #2 (17)]

The second Goblin continues with his manic dash, trying to reach his friend and help him against the mad axeman. His frantic scurrying closes the gap by another 60'.

[/OOC Moves the 5' up to Goblin #1 and tries a melee attack. Almaric, melee attack on G1, needs an 8+. Rolls 4, +2(penalty to G1's AC), -**(G1s AC)= MISS]

Almaric takes a couple of swift steps forward and swings his battleaxe at the diminutive form of the first Goblin, who narrowly manages to avoid the blow.

[/OOC Goblin #1 shakes off the penalty from his failed charge attempt and tries a melee attack against Almaric. Rolls a 6, -7 (Almaric's AC) = -1... A wild miss!]

The angry little Goblin seems to have recovered his composure after his rash headlong charge and lunges at Almaric with his spear. Our young hero easily turns the spear tip aside with a casual shrug of his shield.

Seeing that the second Goblin will soon be joining the fun, Almaric narrows his gaze and concentrates on dispatching his current target.

[/OOC OK, that could have gone either way that round.
Currently, you are engaged in melee combat with Goblin #1, 180' from the bridge. Goblin #2 is 60' away, running towards you both and will reach you next round.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 3

[/OOC The initiative rolls are: Almaric (3+1=4), Goblin #1 (1), Goblin #2 (15)]

Almaric finds himself on the receiving end of the second Goblins wild charge along the road.

[/OOC Goblin #2 CHARGES at Almaric, closes the final 60' and attempts to spear him, 2-handed.
Rolls 16+2(charge mod.)-7(Almaric's AC)=11... HIT!
Damage: Rolls d8(spear, used 2-handed) gets (2) x2(charge mod.)=4
However, Goblin #2 will be at -2 to his AC until his next attack]

A searing pain momentarily erupts from Almaric's right side as the short spear finds a way through his defences. A gout of blood follows the spear tip as the nasty creature wrenches it free and menaces him further. Gritting his teeth, Almaric stands his ground and, turning his attention back to his initial target, swings his battleaxe...

[/OOC Almaric melee attacks Goblin #1. Needs an 8+, rolls (1)-**(Goblin's AC)=BIG-ASS MISS!]

...and almost loses his hold on it as the blood-soaked grip slips in his hand.

[/OOC Goblin #1 attacks with his spear (2-handed). Rolls (19)-7(Almaric's AC)=12 HIT!
Damage: Rolls d8(spear, used 2-handed) gets (2)]

With a cackle of glee, the first Goblin stabs Almaric, also drawing blood. Things are looking grim for the young fighter. He faces two spear-wielding foes, both of which are unharmed, whilst he himself is badly wounded.

[/OOC As it stands:
Almaric has lost a total of 6 HP, he has 3 remaining.
Both Goblins are on full health.
He is engaged in combat, 180' away from the bridge and some 75'+ away from the bushes where Osgar is.]

[/RULES
MOVEMENT
When its initiative number comes up, each combatant may move up to its combat movement distance, and then attack any opponent in range. After attacking, a combatant may not move again until the next round. Opponents more than 5' apart may move freely, but once two opposing combatants are within 5' of each other, they are engaged and must abide by the rules under Defensive Movement, below.

DEFENSIVE MOVEMENT
Once two opposing combatants are within 5' of each other, they are engaged in melee. Engaged combatants may not move except to perform defensive movement. These types of defensive movement may be used by both characters and monsters. Combatants who want to use one of these forms of movement must declare their intention to do so before they roll initiative for the round, and may not change their mind during the round.

A fighting withdrawal allows a combatant to move backwards at 1/2 combat movement. However, there must be a clear path for this movement. If an opponent follows the withdrawing combatant, the withdrawing combatant may attack the opponent on the opponent’s initiative, when he enters reach.

A full retreat occurs when a combatant moves backwards at a faster rate than 1/2 of combat movement. The combatant making the movement forfeits his attack this round, and all his opponent attacks with a +2 bonus that round. In addition, if the retreating combatant is carrying a shield, it does not apply to their Armour Class during the retreat. Thieves may backstab retreating opponents.

RULE CHANGE/HOUSE RULES
MOVEMENT

A combatant may move at any time during their own initiative phase - either before or after they have attacked (melee or missile) or cast a spell - however, the defensive movement rules for 'engaged' combatants still apply.

A combatant may split their movement allowance during a round so long as their initial 'move' was at least 10'.]

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Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 4

[/OOC Initiative rolls: Almaric (10+1=11), Goblin #1 (3), Goblin #2 (10)]

Almaric weighs up the odds and decides he might need to get out of here in a hurry if things continue to go badly - assuming he can make it back to Osgar. Knowing that to turn and try and outrun them will probably see him meet a most untimely end, he elects to back away slowly whilst warding against any further melee attacks from his two green-skinned antagonists.

[/OOC Almaric opts to do a Fighting Withdrawal and moves backwards 15' (1/2 of his combat movement). He is now 195' away from the bridge and roughly 60' from where Osgar is.]

Seeing their wounded prey attempting to flee, the two Goblins press their attacks. The second one is quicker off the mark and moves up to Almaric, his spear ready to strike. Luckily, Almaric was expecting just such a manoeuvre and launches his own pre-emptive strike...

[/OOC Because he did a Fighting Withdrawal, Almaric is entitled to attack any pursuer that moves in to engage him, and do so before the attacker can try to hit him. Goblin #2 no longer has an AC penalty for charging since it is now his next initiative phase.
Almaric needs an 8+, he rolls a (15)-**(Goblin #2's AC) = HIT!
Damage from Battleaxe = (4)+STR Mod(2)+Ftr Mod(1)=7... KILL SHOT!]

/RULES
CLEAVING
Whenever a combatant kills or incapacitates an opponent with a melee or missile attack, he may immediately make another attack throw against another opponent within 5' of the target he has just dropped. The additional attack throw must be with the same weapon as the attack that killed the previous opponent. If engaged in melee, the attacker may move 5' between each attack, subject to his maximum combat movement per round. Attackers may not perform special manoeuvres or actions other than attacking when cleaving.

Monsters, fighters, and other characters that use the fighter attack throw progression may make a maximum number of cleave attacks per round equal to their Hit Dice. Clerics, thieves, and other characters that use the cleric/thief attack throw progression may make a maximum number of cleave attacks per round equal to half their Hit Dice (rounded down). Mages and characters that use the mage attack throw progression may not make cleave attacks.

When making cleave attacks with missile weapons, combatants are limited to a maximum of 2 with arbalest or crossbow, 3 with longbow, and 4 with composite bow, shortbow, sling, or thrown darts, daggers, or javelins.

[/OOC Sadly, Goblin #1 is more than 5' away so Almaric is unable to cleave him.]

...and splits his attacker from shoulder to hip! The Goblin dies with a pitiful yelp, leaving his companion to face the human alone.

[/OOC Goblin #1 has to make a morale check at the death of his compatriot.
Rolls 2d6(8)-1(Goblin morale mod.)=7 -- He fights on.]

Rather than turn tail and run, the remaining Goblin seems to take umbrage at the death of his friend and comes after Almaric. He lunges in with his spear...

[/OOC Because Almaric has already used his attack for this round, he cannot make another attack at the engaging Goblin. However, the Goblin can certainly try and stab him!
Goblin #1 rolls (12)-7(Almaric's AC)=5... MISS!]

... and stabs wide.

Catching a quick breath, Almaric again considers his options.

[/OOC You are engaged in combat with a single, uninjured Goblin. You are 195' from the bridge and around 60' from where you have Osgar tethered.
You are down to 3 HP.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 5

[/OOC Initiative rolls: Almaric (8+1=9), Goblin #1 (2)]

Having decided not to push his luck, Almaric continues his slow fighting withdrawal back towards his trusty steed.

[/OOC Almaric continues his Fighting Withdrawal and moves backwards another 15' (1/2 of his combat movement). He is now 210' away from the bridge and roughly 45' from his horse.]

Seeing the filthy human offer his blood-spit challenge causes the remaining Goblin to stamp his foot in frustration. "You stand-fight! Yous is kill Nugz. Now yous is mine-mine! Stand-fight!" He closes with Almaric once again...

[/OOC ...and once more, Almaric uses his to attack to try and hit his closing pursuer.
Almaric needs an 8+, he rolls an (8) - **(Goblin #1's AC) = MISS]

...and is almost hit by Almaric's battleaxe as it whistles above his head! The Goblin lets out a startled cry as he ducks under the blow at the last minute.

"Grrr. Yous sneaky. Yous sneaky like Goblinz! But yous no Goblinz. Yous is... die-die!", and with that he stabs forward with his spear at Almaric's groin...

[/OOC Goblin #1 tries to spear Almaric.
Rolls (4) - 7(Almaric's AC) = -3! Not even close to a hit]

... but only manages to connect with thin air.

If this were a battle of wits, it would have been over long ago for the Goblins, but sadly this fight uses more than mere words.

[/OOC You are engaged in combat with a single, uninjured Goblin. You are 210' from the bridge and around 45' from where you have Osgar tethered.
There is a dead Goblin on the path, 15' away. You are down to 3 HP.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 6

[/OOC Initiative rolls: Almaric (10+1=11), Goblin #1 (17)]

Just as Almaric is about to continue his fighting withdrawal, the Goblin launches a lightning-fast spear-thrust...

[/OOC Goblin #1 attacks with his spear. Rolls (19) - 7 (Almaric's AC) = 12... A HIT!
2-handed spear damage, rolls a d8(1) damage. Almaric drops another HP down to 2 remaining!]

...which finds a way through Almaric's defences and draws yet more blood. Our hero winces at the pain but shrugs off any further effects as he continues his fighting withdrawal movement back to his mount.

[/OOC Almaric has chosen to withdraw once again, but for once the Goblin actually acted before him in the round. Almaric backs away another 15' which leaves the goblin out of engagement range. The Goblin has already acted this round so he cannot pursue and engage again just yet, which also means that Almaric has no one to retaliate against. Yet.]

Almaric has opened up a 15' gap between himself and the Goblin.

[/OOC You are disengaged, 15' from a single, uninjured Goblin. You are 225' from the bridge and around 30' from where you have Osgar tethered.
There is a dead Goblin on the path, 30' away. You are down to your last 2 HP.]

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Almaric's Tale: Fighting the bridge Goblins - Round 7

[/OOC Initiative rolls: Almaric (13+1=14), Goblin #1 (12)]

Almaric continues his defensive withdrawal towards Osgar and widens the gap between himself and the irate Goblin. He is now 240' from the bridge, 75' from the body of a dead goblin and 30' from a very much live one. He can hear his horse shifting in the undergrowth a mere 15' behind him, obviously his mount has caught scent of the freshly-spilled blood (unaware that it his owner's) and is uneasy. The young warrior however, quickly puts such thoughts aside and steels himself for the inevitable charge he senses coming...

[/OOC Once again, Almaric uses a defensive movement to place another 15' between himself and the Goblin, he suspects the Goblin will have to charge to reach him.]

Perhaps sensing that his quarry is trying to reach the horse that he can now see moving through the bushes or just from sheer frustration, the Goblin tightens his grip on his spear, lowers the tip and with a wild yell, charges at Almaric, fully-focussed on skewering him.

[/OOC Goblin #1, CHARGES at Almaric, closing the 30' gap and engages him in combat. This drops his own AC by 2, but will double any damage that he manages to inflict - which means that any hit at all will down the fighter.]

The Goblin's battle-cry causes a faint flicker of a smile to touch Almaric's lips as he sees the diminutive form hurtle towards him. Praying to Lodor that he has timed things right, the fighter swings his axe back and around in a mighty, overhead arc...

[/OOC Goblin #1 is now back in melee combat with Almaric, but since Almaric did a fighting withdrawal the fighter gets to attack pre-emptively with his battleaxe.
Almaric needs an 8+ to hit. He rolls (13) - **(Goblin #1's AC, which is penalised by 2 for charging) = HIT!!
Damage of the battleaxe is d6(4) + STR mod.(2) + Ftr.mod.(1) = 7 HP.... KILL SHOT!!! /WOOT!]

...and just as the Goblin reaches him, Almaric pivots on his feet letting his attacker pass alongside him before continuing the downward and backward arc of his axe-blade. There is a slight pause in momentum, accompanied by a very liquid squelching sound as the axehead passes through the Goblin's spine, removing his head and part of his shoulder. The body sprawls into the dirt and slides a few feet before coming to rest.

Looking around to see if anything untoward is afoot, Almaric heaves a shuddering breath and, letting the battleaxe tip rest on the ground, leans against it for support - the pain of his injuries vying for his attention alongside his adrenalin-fuelled relief at his narrow victory.

[/OOC You are alive, although you are down to your last 2 HP. Osgar is 15' away. You have a dead Goblin next to you and another one about 75' further down the road towards the bridge which is 240' distant.]

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Almaric's Tale: Bridge Goblins (aftermath)

After catching his breath, Almaric fishes around in his backpack and retrieves a bandage. He then spends a few painful minutes probing, inspecting and cleaning his wounds before attempting to bind them.

[/OOC Since he has at least one rank in Healing, Almaric may attempt to administer First Aid to himself [see House Rules, First Aid], (1d4 rolled for a total of 4) and recovers 4 Hit Points back. He now has 6 HP - that's 2/3 of full health. He's bloodied, battered, bruised but better!]

With his wounds attended to Almaric returns to Osgar and, murmuring calming words as he strokes his skittish friend, untethers him and leads him down the road to the decapitated Goblin body. Osgar initially shies away from the blood-soaked corpse but calms down after Almaric turns his head away from the sight.

Kneeling down, accompanied by the merest of pained curses, Almaric searches the body for anything of interest or value. His search reveals little beyond a small money-bag containing 2 electrum and 15 silver coins, which he pockets. The spear appears intact, though too small for proper human use, still he straps it to his saddle and, continuing to lead Osgar, walks toward the bridge and the other Goblin corpse.

A search of the remaining body uncovers a square of smelly, stained cloth that has been knotted into a make-shift purse. This holds 1 electrum and 5 silver coins, which go into the previously looted money-bag. A quick sniff of the damp and filthy cloth square encourages Almaric to leave it with its owner. The other spear joins the first on his saddle before Almaric and Osgar continue onwards to the bridge.

After spending a good few minutes thoroughly searching the area - including under the bridge - Almaric is unable to find any signs of a campsite, or possibly other Goblins. Perhaps they were outlying guards?

Finally convinced that the area is clear, Almaric remounts Osgar and continues his journey over the bridge and on to the Fort.

The road winds on for a short time, finally coming to a junction. You continue south as the guard instructed, and soon spy a figure moving up the road towards you, at this distance, it appears like a lone human.

[/OOC You are currently on 6 HP.
You have gained: a money-bag, 3 ep, 20 sp and 2 Goblin short spears (unusable by humans)
You have lost/used: 1 arrow and 1 bandage
NOTE: Do not count the money-bag as encumbrance, just assume it forms part of the coinage encumbrance.
Update your character sheet accordingly.]

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Almaric's Tale: Lone Stranger

As he rides closer towards the lone figure, Almaric tries to discern anything about the approaching stranger.

[/OOC Basic WIS roll to notice anything pertinent. Rolled d20(7), which is under Almaric's WIS score of 12.]

Peering at the man (for a man it is indeed), Almaric notes his slow, and somewhat weary pace, and his plain, common-looking, well-worn garb. He does not appear to be wearing armour and carries no weapon other than a simple dagger at his hip. A small sack is slung over his left shoulder. Still, appearances can be deceptive, so the cautious warrior surreptitiously reaches down and loosens the strap on his mace - just in case. Knowing he's not in the best shape to fight, Almaric readies himself to spur Osgar on to ride past the figure and clock him with the mace if needed.

As the man is almost upon him, the stranger looks up and gives Almaric a small wave of his hand in greeting. “Well met, sir."

He waits until Osgar is alongside him and then continues. "My name is Arronay. I’ve been walking this road for hours, and I’m getting hungry and tired. Would you care to share my meal with me?”

"Well met Arronay, my name is Almaric. Although I am in somewhat of a rush, I could use a break and would be happy to spend a while talking with a fellow traveller."

He dismounts from his horse, still wary of this stranger but being courteous - his hand never to far from his weapons.

Arronay casts about, looking for a place to sit off the roadside. He indicates a shaded area beneath the branches of a nearby tree and moves towards it, talking as he goes. "You look a little worse for wear my friend, here, let us ease our bones by this tree."

"Where are you hailing from Arronay, and what makes you travel this road today? Dangerous creatures are roaming around and a single man so simply armed would be an inviting target."

The man pauses a moment as if considering something before replying. "I am on my way home. I live half a days travel yonder.", he points along the road past the junction Almaric turned at. "Generally, these roadways are safe, although sometimes it is not unheard of for heavily-armed bandits to prey on innocent travellers."

Almaric catches Arronay sneaking a glance at the armour and weapons he is sporting, and the fact that Almaric has obviously seen combat recently if the fresh blood spots soaking through his bandages are any indication.

Almaric tethers Osgar to the tree and as the horse begins to graze, he casts his eye around for something to supplement the lunch-fare of his new 'friend'.

[/OOC Basic Survival roll to see if anything nearby is edible. Needs an 18+, rolls(5) + Proficiency mod(4)=9. FAILURE]

A cursory search of the surroundings fails to provide anything edible to add to the meal, so Almaric produces some of the food he has previously foraged on his travels. It is only a small amount, so it will not impact on his own supplies but at least it is something. The man takes the proffered food and bows his head in thanks as he adds it to the meagre food he has taken from his sack.

Sitting beneath the tree with their shared meal - Arronay's torn-off hunk of hard bread and chunk of pungent-smelling cheese supplemented by Almaric's fruit and berries. They both sip from their own waterskins while they chat.

[/OOC Still on his guard, Almaric is wary of any hint of poison or soporifics in the food, but is unable to detect anything (by either small or taste) - the bread is almost entirely tasteless and the cheese is very smelly and sharp-tasting, but surprisingly tasty. Arronay partakes of all the food, without showing any signs of ill-effects.]

During the course of the discussion over lunch, Arronay mentions that he has seen a small force of goblins to the south, apparently heading towards a fort, but they are fairly slow. He hid himself as soon as he saw them and did not seek to follow them once they moved on. He doesn't know anything about the fort or its troops. He appears to be a simple local labourer and so doesn't really have anything more to say on the area or its surroundings.

With the meal finished, Almaric makes ready to depart. Arronay looks pained as he struggles to get up, the shade must have chilled his bones and an ache set in. He stretches as he gains his feet and Almaric hears a small popping sound. With a wince of pain, he offers to shake hands goodbye. As Almaric reaches for his hand, Arronay says, “Goodbye, stranger!” and suddenly stabs out at him with a dagger that he seems to have conjured into his hand!

[/OOC Normally I would roll for surprise but both of you have been watching each other too closely. Instead we will shift straight to combat and initiative.
Round 1 initiative rolls: Almaric (11)+1=12, Arronay (17).]

Momentarily caught off-guard, Almaric finds himself unarmed and without the protection of his shield which is currently looped onto his saddle horn. Arronay's dagger flashes viciously at the young fighter's throat...

[/OOC Arronay attacks with his dagger. Rolls (12) - Almaric's base AC(5) = MISS]

...luckily, Almaric's constant sense of vigilance saves him as he flinches back just in time to avoid having his throat cut! Without even knowing it, his hand has already found the handle of his mace and, grasping it two-handed, he brings it around in a whirling side-swipe towards the head of his treacherous assailant...

[/OOC Almaric needs an 8+. He rolls (20) - **(Arronay's AC) = CRITICAL HIT!

Critical Hits (House Rule)
If your attack throw is a natural 20, it is automatically a hit. If it would have been a hit even without the “natural 20's always hit” rule, then it is a critical hit that inflicts maximum damage. Only the weapon’s (or spell’s, if the spell requires an attack throw) normal damage die is maximized, not damage dice from backstabs, the ambush or weapon focus proficiencies, magic items, etc.

Damage from the mace (used 2-handed) is MAX(8) + STR mod.(2) + Fighter mod.(1) = 11 HP... KILLSHOT!!]

...which ends in a tremendous thud, followed instantly by the sound of bones snapping. Arronay's neck is whipped side-ways into a grotesquely distorted angle and the side of his skull is caved in. Blood spatters across Almaric's face and Osgar dances a step sideways as he is startled by the sudden noise. After the body slumps to the ground, the area is silent, the action so suddenly started and ended that it is almost as if nature itself was taken by surprise.

Almaric looks down at the body in front of him.

[/OOC WOW. That was... umm... quick.
Along with the usual rolls, etc. I need a special one - a d13]

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Almaric's Tale: Lone Stranger (aftermath)

Almaric wipes the sticky blood from his face and then cleans the worst of the gore and brain-matter off the head of his mace using Arronay's dirty tunic. Moving to his tethered horse, he quietly calms the beast before turning his attention back to the body.

A search of the would-be thief's cooling corpse provides marginally better results than that of the goblins. Arronay's dagger turns out to be every bit as shoddy as his trust but he had other items too. Aside from the blade, Almaric considers a small sack holding a pouch with 4 gold pieces and a vial containing green liquid to be of value to him and the one-third full waterskin may prove useful as a spare. His dealings with the treacherous scum concluded, he kicks the body into the tree line before remounting and proceeding down the road toward the fort.

Feeling good that his reactions are still keen, he finds himself whistling softly to himself and his trusty steed as they press on into the afternoon.

[/OOC Mark the items on your character sheet (if you don't want an item, let me know and I'll amend the descriptive text) otherwise adjust the coinage and enc totals accordingly.
Your Critical Hit netted you a one-shot bonus that you can play at any time - 'Power Attack' - Maximum damage on a successful hit.
Again you can decide when you want to play it or let me use it to best advance things as I see fit - your choice.]

The afternoon wears on into early evening.

It is beginning to get dark and the moon is beginning to rise, but Almaric feels he is near his objective. However, one last task seems to lie before him. He sees camp fires along the side of the road, and realises the goblin force must have been ahead of him all the time - seems as though Arronay might actually have told at least one truth. The goblins he encountered were merely stragglers. To attempt to plough through the main force would be suicide, but Almaric may have an alternative.

[/OOC You have 6 out of 9 HP.
You have gained: A poor quality dagger, a small sack, another pouch, 4 gp, a vial of green liquid and a 1/3 full waterskin. You also have a 'one-shot bonus of Power Attack'.
You have lost/used: Nothing.]

SpankyTaz
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Almaric's Tale: Off in the woods

Knowing his options are limited, Almaric dismounts Osgar and leads him off the road out of sight of the Goblin encampment.

Taking his time, he goes through all his belongings; unpacking and then repacking them in such a way to avoid them rattling in his packs and bags. Pausing to unstopper the bottle and smell the green liquid, trying to identify its purpose, he detects that it has a strong and musky smell and is definitely a potion and not an oil - beyond that, its possible effect remains unknown.

Anything that may catch and reflect light from fires or the moon is covered with strips cut from his blanket, and finally more blanket pieces are wrapped around Osgar's feet to muffle his footfalls. The latter task eliciting the faintest of snorts and head shakes from his mount. Do horses snigger?

[/OOC Blanket is destroyed in the process - remove from inventory]

Finally, his preparation done to the best of his abilities and with as much care and forethought as he can apply, Almaric leads Osgar further away from the road, deeper into the woods so that they may take an overland, more circuitous route around the goblin camp. Always on the lookout for sentries that may have been posted and ready to remount and ride for their lives, the young warrior slowly works his way through the ever darkening woods.

Quickly leaving the firelight of the camps far behind, Almaric heads in what he hopes is the general direction of where he needs to be to rejoin the road and continue his mission. However, after walking for about an hour, he hears the familiar sound of whiny, guttural voices up ahead. A Goblin patrol!

Standing stock still, not even daring to hunker down for fear of making a sound, Almaric holds his breath and strains his ears trying to narrow down the direction the Goblins are travelling in.

[/OOC You attempt to remain quietly hidden and determine their exact location. Move Silently: Need an 18+, you roll(13) + previous prep.(3) + standing still(3)=19. SUCCESS
General perception to detect where they are in location to you. Basic INT throw, you roll(7), your INT is 13=SUCCESS]

His previous care seems to have paid off, for as his eyes fully adjust to the darkness, he spots a group of four Goblins armed with short swords moving non-too-quietly through the woods. They do not appear to have noticed him, indeed they seem to be more caught up in an argument amongst themselves than they do to paying any real attention to their surroundings. However, Almaric may not have all the luck this evening - their current path will take them straight to him!

[/OOC You are 30' away from the two lead Goblins, who are 5' in front of the next two. They are unaware of you at the moment but will walk into you in a round if you do nothing.
You have lost/used: your blanket]

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Almaric's Tale: Goblin Patrol

Sensing that time is short and that the Goblins will discover him regardless of whatever he does, Almaric retrieves one of the previously looted goblin spears from his saddle and throws it into the undergrowth behind and to the right of the patrol.

[/OOC No roll needed since you weren't trying to hit anything in particular - it's pretty darn hard to miss a forest!]

The sudden noise catches the attention of the Goblins and they immediately start swivelling their small green heads as they try and locate the source of the disturbance.

[/OOC Roll for surprise, they had no hope of seeing it because they weren't paying any attention at all. Normally, surprise only occurs on a 1 or 2 on a d6, but since the Goblins are inattentive and Almaric has successfully hidden himself, I give a bonus of +2. Target throw is now 1-4, roll is (3) = SUCCESS]

They begin arguing again - this time about what the noise was and where it came from. This has left them off-guard and ripe for an ambush.

Snatching up his bow, Almaric quickly sights in on the closest Goblin...

[/OOC Initiatives for Round 1: Not needed, the Goblins are surprised so don't get to act.
Goblin #1 is 30' away which is well within short range for the longbow.
Throw needed, 9+. Rolls (13) + 2 (surprise mod.) - **(Goblin #1's AC) = HIT!
Damage from shot, (6)+2 = 8 HP. KILLSHOT!
Because there is another Goblin within 5' of Goblin #1, Almaric can attempt to CLEAVE a bowshot into it.
Throw needed, 9+. Rolls (9) + 2 (surprise mod.) - **(Goblin #2's AC) = HIT!!
Damage from shot, (6)+2 = 8 HP. CLEAVING DOUBLE KILLSHOT!!
Although there is another Goblin within 5' of the last downed foe, Almaric's level is too low to allow him another cleave attempt.]

...time seems to slow as all of Almaric's focus narrows into a point just below the yammering Goblin's chin. There is the briefest of spurts as the arrowshaft and flight rip through the suddenly silent Goblin's throat, only to reappear a second later in the eye socket of his unlucky friend behind him. Both slump to the ground, the sound of their falling bodies causing the two remaining creatures to spin back around and gape at their fallen allies. They goggle at the bodies and then at each other and then catch sight of Almaric, grinning evilly at them through the bushes...

[/OOC Their numbers have just been halved. Time for a morale check for the remaining guards!
RULE: Morale check
The Judge usually makes morale rolls under two conditions: when one side of an encounter has lost a member due to death, or when half the group on one side is either killed or otherwise incapacitated. If both results occur in the same round, one morale roll is made at a -2 penalty.

Roll, 2d6(8) - 2(penalty for losing half their number in the first round!)= 6. FIGHT ON]

It almost looked like they were going to break and retreat but with a sudden angry yell, they brandish their swords and run at Almaric...

[/OOC I have enough rolls from you so I'll continue in to Round 2.
Initiatives for round 2: Almaric (5+1)=6, Goblins (10) - I'll do both Goblins together this time because they are next to each other, unlike the ones at the bridge.]

The two Goblins dash towards Almaric and burst through the undergrowth in front of him. Before Almaric can react properly, he finds himself under attack from two sides, facing swift stabs and slashes from their short swords.

[/OOC They have swords so even if the bushes weren't in the way, they wouldn't be able to charge.
Goblin #3 attacks. Rolls (3) - Almaric's shieldless AC(5) = -2. MISS
Goblin #4 attacks. Rolls (4) - Almaric's shieldless AC(5) = -1. Oh FFS!!Dodgy MISS.]

Almaric manages to easily evade his two antagonists as he dodges and feints their attacks. Dropping his bow, he grabs his battle axe in a two-handed grip and swings it, waist high, towards the Goblin on his right flank...

[/OOC Almaric needs an 8+. He rolls (11) -**(Goblin #3's AC) = 8. HIT... just (jammy bastige!)
Damage from double-handed axe blow, (7) + 2 (STR mod.) + 1 (Ftr. mod.) = 10 HP (more than double the poor buggers HP)... KILLSHOT!
Although Goblin #4 is further away from Goblin #3, Almaric is allowed to move up to 5' to make a CLEAVE attempt.
Cleaving double-handed axe attack on Goblin #4. Needs an 8+. Rolls (18) -**(Goblin #4's AC) = 15. Solid HIT.
Damage from axe-blow, (1) HA! + 2 (STR mod.) + 1 (Ftr. mod.) = 4 HP, he would still be up so I play your *POWER ATTACK* bonus card and the damage goes up to MAX(8) + 2 (STR mod.) + 1 (Ftr. mod.) = 11. CLEAVING DOUBLE-KILLSHOT! Angry (I hate you!)LOL]

...where the axe-head connects with the Goblin, just above its hip. With a satisfying squelch, the blade passes through the hapless creature, severing its spine and leaving it in two twitching halves. Spinning on the spot, Almaric uses his momentum to continue the battleaxe's arc into the chest of the surprised foe to his left. The Goblin is flung backwards into a bush, its ribcage a ruined mess.

Almaric cocks his head to one side, listening for further sounds of patrols that may have been alerted by the combat but the woods have fallen silent, almost as if in awe at the power of the young hero.

Until Osgar spoils the moment by farting.

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Almaric's Tale: Goblin Patrol (aftermath)

A search of the bodies nets Almaric some loose coins - 5 gold and 43 silver pieces. He also finds a bare wooden shield, which was strapped to the back of the second Goblin. There is no sign of the spear he threw and all that remains of his arrow are blood-soaked splinters.

Returning to his mount, Almaric favours Osgar with a disapproving look, but since this is just greeted by a twitch of his ears and a gentle snort, he shakes his head and takes up his reins as he leads him on through the dark woods.

Wearing a smug look on his face as they walk through the night, Almaric stays alert for sounds of more Goblin patrols. He also considers having "Goblin-Cleaver" inscribed on his axe handle at the next available opportunity...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is almost midnight when Almaric and Osgar finally reach the fort and pass the fallen troopers message on to the shocked commander. The commander gets his adjutant to find you a hot meal and a warm bed, while Osgar is stabled for the night.

Because of his actions, the fort is warned and the troops mount a successful pre-emptive set of raids on the Goblin camps. The immediate threat of the Goblins has been removed as the routed survivors, flee into the woods, their spirit broken and their plans foiled.

For now.

Upon his return, the grateful commander gives Almaric a reward of 50 pieces of gold and a letter of commendation, stating Almaric's role in saving the day and his heroic service to the Duke.

Almaric has had a taste of adventure, but he has detoured from his original route towards Larm. He has time to make up but since he is in no immediate hurry, he can rest and restock in the fort before setting off down the road, once more in search of further adventure!

[/OOC You will be fully healed by the next day and you can decide which if any of your loot you would like to sell - the goblin spear has no value, but everything else can be sold for 50% of value or 65% in trade at the fort quartermaster.]

Gained: 4 poor quality short swords, 1 shield and a total of 55 gold and 43 silver pieces, letter of thanks from the fort commander.
Lost/used: 1 of the goblin spears, 1 arrow (couldn't withstand the abuse of killing two Goblins), 1 bonus card.

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Almaric's Tale

Having enjoyed a hot meal and a good nights sleep, Almaric pays a visit to the fort's Quartermaster with his loot.

After a brief period of examination and bartering, Almaric trades in the goblin shield and four short swords, and after adding additional funds from his pouch, Almaric acquires a new blanket, two Healing Salves and a weeks supply of Iron Rations. He also replaces the bandage he used and buys a bag of apples for Osgar. This still leaves him with a decent amount that should cover his immediate needs for a week or two.

[/OOC Amend your character sheet with the new/replaced items and adjust your coinage and encumbrance totals accordingly. You also gain additional XP from the sale of the items.]

Once restocked, Almaric asks around if there is anyone in the Fort that can identify the mysterious green potion and possibly carve inscriptions into wood. He is pointed towards the fort's carpenter who is more than happy to inscribe the name "Goblin Cleaver" into the haft of Almaric's battleaxe. No charge for the young hero that saved the fort!

Alas, nobody currently within the fort can help with the potion. He is told that only an Alchemist would be able to test and identify it fully for him but the more experienced soldiers point out that in the past, they have done their own 'experimenting' to save time and money. They suggest that Almaric sip a little of the potion while concentrating on his body and the surroundings - noting any changes or effects that briefly manifest. However, they warn against the dangers of sipping too much of an unknown potion and also mixing the effects of two or more potions, pointing out that it is also helpful to have some form of healing or curative abilities on hand... just in case. They take him through the process of identifying his green potion under the watchful (and slightly disapproving) eye of the fort's healer. Taking a careful sip, Almaric concentrates on his body with all of his senses... and notes a tingling sensation course through his muscles. He could swear he saw his already impressive physique momentarily increase. The effect quickly fades and Almaric looks around him at the soldiers and healer. One of the officers says, "Saw your biceps grow. Considering your size already, I'd say that one's a strength potion." The others nod. The healer just 'tsks' and walks away.

[/OOC You have a potion of Strength (+1d6 Strength for 1d6+6 turns).
Note: Drinking a potion while another potion is in effect will sicken you and you will be unable to take any actions for 3 turns (30 minutes); neither potion will have any other effect. This doesn't apply to healing potions or any other potion that has an instant, permanent effect.]

Having completed all that he set out to do today, and since it is only late morning, Almaric makes his farewells and after collecting Osgar from the stables, the pair continue on their journey toward Larm.

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That concludes the first instalment of Almaric's Tale.

The player is continuing his adventures but I will wait and see if anyone wants to hear more before I post further.

I (in fact we both) had a lot of fun doing this, it made a nice change from the usual weekly gaming sessions and unlike normal PBM games, I didn't have to wait for a bunch of replies - just one.

Obviously there are issues and concerns when running a solo adventure, especially when the character is a fighter and so healing and magic can prove problematic, but that's where the House Rules come in. I can post them if anyone is interested.

sulldawga
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I enjoyed it thoroughly and would love to hear more.

Did you give any thought to adjusting the rules a bit to make up for the fact that your hero is solo? That first battle almost ended this story before it began!

Or maybe your House Rules make a difference...

jedavis
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Sounds like the fellow needs a henchman or two! I too enjoyed reading this, though. Sorta makes me want to run something similar; been having trouble getting a full crew together recently, and ACKS works well with small parties anyway.

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I'm sure Almaric would love a henchman.

Shame I've not made an effort to remind him that he can have one, muahahah!

Seriously though, he's not been in a position yet where he can get any real long-term help. To be honest, I didn't even expect him to buy a horse since most steel-swingers tend to blow all their starting cash on arms and armour. The amount of fast-foot shuffling I've had to do to incorporate that dang Osgar...

Apart from doing one-on-one single character games, I also run games where a single player runs an entire adventuring party, although those games take place in a specific area of my campaign world much removed from the 'Known Lands' where the regular and solo play games take place. Again, they're fun because you don't have to wait around for each individual character in the group to organise amongst the rest what he/she will be doing. The player gets to do most of the donkey work by sorting their actions and organising the turn, etc. I just apply the rules whilst taking them through the story. In a lot of instances, it's so much easier than traditional play, especially as you don't have to give an instant response as you would in a face-to-face tabletop game. You can consider their actions without any real time pressure and just concentrate on (hopefully) making the experience more fun for all involved.

Now if only all live gaming session could work that way...

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Some of my House Rules (posted in the House Rules section on these forums) are used specifically to aid in one-on-one games - particularly the addition of low-magic solutions like healing salves/poultices and first aid, that allow non-casters the chance to keep on going for a little while longer without making them unkillable.

Other than taking care to not run the players into anything of warband size, I consider everything else to be fair game. To me, it's all about the story and if the story involves the hero getting his butt kicked because he didn't go with 'Plan B' (run away!), then so be it. Luckily, my players know that's how I roll so they don't expect to get off lightly. I will cut them a break if I feel it will advance the story but death through a brain fart on their part is just... tough!

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Almaric's Tale: Unfamiliar Surroundings

Slowly, a dark fog clears from your brain and your eyes focus.

You are in a large room and a roaring fire burns in a fireplace. You sit up on the couch and quickly realize you are in a tavern. A long bar sits opposite the fireplace and there are several tables scattered around the room. It must be late as no patrons share the room with you. The light of the full moon shines through the windows confirming your suspicions.

Reaching for your belt, you notice it is gone. Your gold, your weapons, your clothes, everything is missing. The fog in your brain is fading now but you can’t seem to recall how you came to this place. The last thing you can remember is that you were travelling to the borderlands village of Larm in search of adventure. The road was long and night had come upon you. A light in the distance gave you hope. The merchants you passed earlier in the day mentioned that a tavern lay ahead and you should arrive shortly after nightfall. Their definition of 'shortly after nightfall' is certainly not the same as yours, but regardless, it was not far off. Then there was a man asking for directions...

“Ho there,” says a gravel-filled voice. A thin, old man sits in the chair across from you. He passes you a mug filled with steaming tea. “Nasty little lump you got there. My man, Kel, found you on the road a short way back. Naked as the day you were born, I should say. Kel was coming back from his monthly supply run when he startled off your attackers. They heard him approaching and ran off, to the south and into the Greenwood. There were three of them. Kel couldn’t see much more, but he didn’t need light to see what they were doing.

Now, I have to figure that you normally don’t go traipsing about the world butt-naked like that, so that means bandits. And that, my friend, is something that I just can’t abide. There was a time when travelling the road was not so safe. Bandits of all kinds used the forest to hide out in. But the army cleared them out five years ago. I built this tavern here after that because I was sick of the city and the road was safe. If the bandits have returned, word will get out and my business will be ruined."

You ask him about Osgar, which elicits a briefly puzzled look until you clarify that Osgar is your horse.

"Ah. Kel didn't see no horse around when he found you. Must be they've made off with him too.

As I see it, we have a common interest that needs solving. You have the look about you of an adventurer. I have met your kind before and I know your type well enough. I am sure they have stolen more than one thing that is dear to you, and they are trying to steal my dream.

I can equip you. More than one of your kind has left here in a drunken stupor, leaving the odd item here and there. I keep them in that trunk over there.” He points to a large, wooden chest near the window opposite the entry door.

“I can’t tell you if any of it is of particular use or value. Even though it was left here, it does not belong to me. I figure I'd best leave it alone in case the owner decides to come back and claim what is his. You won’t catch me on the wrong side of your type, no offence. But most of it has remained in the chest for years.

“Go ahead and take what you need. Dire times call for dire choices. Go back down the road to the east and look for a large rock on the south side of the road. There will be a spot of blood on it where your head paid a visit. Kel said that whatever happened, you must have fallen and hit your head on the rock. If you need to come here and rest, I will keep a room set aside. And when the bandits are dead, I think I may be able to offer you a small reward as well. Now good luck to you!”

[/OOC The following list includes all the items found in the chest. You can equip your character as you deem appropriate. Items removed from the chest should be removed from the list and cannot be replaced.

Chest Contents: Pack (empty), 50’ rope, oil flask (2), lantern, torch (5), tinderbox, large sack (2), pouch, quiver w/20 arrows, short bow, broad sword, longsword, short sword, dagger (2), club, mace, suit of chainmail, clothing, boots, shield, four pouches containing (what you assume to be) spell components. The tavern keeper will also supply food and water for three days.]

The GM giveth and the GM taketh away...

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Almaric's Tale - Notes

This is the post I sent to Almaric's player explaining how the next set of adventures would be played and how they would differ from what he had experienced previously.

OK, so we've done some easy stuff so far just to get you into the swing of how things play. Now the fun begins...

Notes:
If you want to return to the inn, you may do so at any time (to report back, rest, restock, heal, etc.) and I will count this as 'civilisation' and therefore award any new XP to you.

Mapping:
You will want to chart your character’s progress by mapping the adventure as you play. To make things a bit easier to track, I have broken the overall map down into sections that will be revealed as you move around and encounter different things and areas, etc. The map sections are labelled with a letter identifier (A, B, C, etc.). I would suggest taking a sheet of A4 graph paper and use it landscape. I have knocked up an example of the kind of mapping I tend to use for these things and sent you a copy.

For most location encounters, I will provide you with that area’s map section. You can add it to your map at that time. Generally, you will only receive one map section to add to your map at a time, although there are some locations that include two or more map sections and others are not complete until you move to another location within that same map section. Also, don't assume that each of those blank areas will have something to go in there - I just needed a way to grid the overall map and encounters up into easy-to-track chunks! Hopefully it will make sense fully as we get into it...

Resting in the Field:
You may find it necessary to rest in the field rather than returning to the inn. If your character rests outdoors, I will roll for random encounters a total of three times - checks are at dusk, midnight and dawn. For the purposes of this adventure (you being solo, etc.), encountering wandering monsters during the rest period will not interfere with the benefits of resting (regaining hit points, etc.). I generally won't be rolling for encounters during normal play, but there may be exceptions [/wink]

GM Note: The reduced chance of random encounters was to aid the fact that he would be on his own but still giving him the sense that it was the wilds and not a holiday park he was tromping about in. Some of my random encounter table results are not the traditional '1d4 Orcs', etc. some of them are HINTS or tastes of other possible encounters - wolf calls in the night, rustling in the undergrowth, etc. I won't include any of the map sections I sent since I'm not sure how these forums handle graphic attachments.

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Almaric's Tale: The hunt is on

"Thank you sir for your aid and hospitality and my thanks to Kel. My name is Almaric and you are?"

"Oh my, here I am, yammering away like one of my barmaids and forgot to even have the decency to give my name. I'm Hugo Barsh and this here is my pride and joy, The Travelling Man. Kel Biggins is my right hand around here, helps out in the bar, kitchens, stables, whatever needs doing, he can do it.", this last comment seems to amuse him as he adds, "Or so he tells me. Anyway, I'll be sure to pass along your thanks to him but I won't be needing any thanks beyond you putting an end to those thieving villains and coming back all safe like."

While they talk, Almaric equips himself from the innkeeper's chest.

Since he does not appear any the worse for wear, as soon as he's ready and with a last look back and salute to his host, Almaric strides out of the door and down the road in search of his ambushers... and more importantly Osgar and "Goblin-Cleaver".

-------------------------------------

Moving down the road Almaric arrives at the spot of last night’s ambush.

[/OOC The Travelling Man is in area E and the ambush site was on the road at B]

A narrow path leads south from the road into the woods. The path, more a game trail than proper trail, is overgrown but not difficult to follow. The trees in the forest are large and the undergrowth is limited due to the all-encompassing canopy of trees.

Following the thin forest trail, Almaric quickly arrives at a small clearing.

The area is no more than 50’ wide at any point and it is covered with a layer of knee-high grass. The grass near the centre of the clearing has been trampled. Almaric quickly notices some of his stolen possessions are laying about the trampled area. There are four paths leading away from the clearing, including the one that leads back to the road and the inn.

[/OOC The clearing is area G.]

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Almaric's Tale - The Clearing

Crouching down outside the clearing, Almaric surveys the scene for signs of possible ambush - the collection of items lying in the open just too tempting to be innocent.

Removing his pack and hiding it in the undergrowth, Almaric starts to slowly skirt around the edge of the clearing - just inside the tree line - moving around to the east, all the time looking for bandits to shoot. Nothing leaps out or attacks him as he continues his traverse of the clearing's perimeter. Finally, he arrives back at his starting point and, convinced that the area holds no (immediate) unpleasant surprises for him, he moves into the patch of trampled grass.

Scattered about the area, Almaric can see most of his more mundane items and equipment. His attackers were apparently selective and only took his weapons, armour, money and anything they felt they needed or was of value.

[/OOC At this time you can re-equip your character with any items from your character’s original inventory (prior to arriving at the Travelling Man) with the exception of the following: Weapons, Armour, Potions, Treasure (including jewellery, coins and gems) and any containers. All other items are in the area including rope, bandages, clothing, crowbar, etc. There is no sign of your saddle - or indeed, Osgar.]

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Almaric's Tale

Bundling all of the discarded equipment into a sack, Almaric returns to his hidden backpack and adds the sack to the concealed cache. Thinking that it might be be easier to travel unburdened, he leaves the bags and returns to the centre of the clearing.

Almaric spends a short while examining the ground for any tracks that might give him a clue as to the bandit's direction. Apart from catching sight of one or two faded hoof-prints (that may or may not belong to his missing mount), there are sadly, just too many other tracks and spoor trampled throughout the area to tell him anything of use - other than this place has seen a fair amount of traffic.

Knowing that the general lay of the land puts the small river to the east and without any other means of tracking, Almaric decides to eliminate the smaller eastern region first before turning his attention elsewhere if needed.

Having lightened his load, Almaric is able to make better speed but since he is literally in 'bandit country', he elects to try and move as quietly as possible whilst staying alert for the sounds of voices. With a last look around the clearing, he sets off down the east path.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The path here is overgrown and very hard to follow. The gurgle of rushing water gives Almaric ample warning and as he moves through some thick scrub, he finds the path split by a quick-running stream. It is only about ten feet wide and it looks shallow. The stream bed is filled with gravel and small stretches of sand. Larger rocks and trees have created pools up and down the stream. The water runs off to the south. Looking to the south he can see a small trout break the water and snatch an insect that strayed too close to the surface. The path continues on the opposite side of the stream.

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Almaric's Tale - The Stream

Moving around the stream proves fairly difficult. The vegetation is thick at its banks and it is simply easier to walk in the water. The stream is generally less than a foot deep, apart from some pools that are no more than three feet deep. The water is very cold and Almaric's investigation proves fruitless. Aside from spooking the occasional trout, he discovers nothing other than the fact this would be an excellent stream to fish.

[/OOC No map for this area because you chose to turn back early]

Almaric decides to abandon any progress further east across the stream and opts instead to return to the clearing in the west.

From the clearing he then strikes out south.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The path here is clear and there is very little undergrowth beneath the forest canopy. The trees, mostly 100-foot tall jack pines have dropped their needles for decades, creating a carpet of brown that is only disrupted by the occasional green fern. The path, which is well worn, is only distinguishable because it has formed a slight depression in the ground. Almaric's keen eye catches a strange feature just off the path. The remnants of a campsite are clearly visible. A tent, mostly rotted and collapsed, is the most obvious feature. A ring of stones and empty hearth are also clearly evident. The fire pit is covered with several years of pine needles.

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Almaric's Tale - The Old Campsite

Almaric slowly approaches the old campsite, sword drawn and shield up. Carefully moving the remains of the tent flap to the side, he expects something to rush out at him. Sure enough. No sooner does he move the canvas to reveal the inside of the tent, when three monstrous black centipedes emerge and attack!

The centipedes are almost two feet long and black fluid drips from their fanged mouths.

[/OOC No surprise on either side, so it's straight to initiative for round 1: Almaric (7+1)=8, Centipedes: #1 (20), #2 (9) and #3 (15).]

The foul creatures act with alarming quickness as they swarm around Almaric's legs and between his feet, seeking to entwine them and trip him as they occasionally rear up and attempt to bite him.

[/OOC Centipede #1 attacks Almaric. Rolls (3) - Almaric's AC (7) = -4. MISS
Centipede #2 attacks Almaric. Rolls (15) - Almaric's AC (7) = 8. MISS
Centipede #3 attacks Almaric. Rolls (6) - Almaric's AC (7) = -1. MISS]

The disgusting, wriggling critters fail to find a way through Almaric's chainmail and he lashes out at them in retaliation.

[/OOC Almaric attacks (randomly /d3) centipede #3. He needs an 8+, he rolls (1) - ** (centipede AC) = MISS.]

Attacking fast-moving targets that are climbing your legs without doing yourself any harm proves trickier than Almaric thought it would be. He fails to land a blow worth noting.

The three creatures continue their harassment of Almaric whilst trying to sink their ichor-coated fangs in him...

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Almaric's Tale - Fighting the Black Centipedes - Round 2

[/OOC Initiatives: Almaric rolls (5+1)=6, Centipede #1 (17), Centipede #2 (12) and Centipede #3 (14)]

The three large insects continue their attacks on Almaric.

[/OOC Centipede #1 bites at Almaric, rolls (19) - Almaric's AC(7) = 12. HIT!
Damage = 1 HP but now Almaric must make a save against the effect of the black venom.
Almaric needs a 14+ to save vs. Poison, he rolls (10) + 1(CON bonus) + 4(the venom is not a strong one) = 15. SUCCESS!

Centipede #3 attacks next, rolls (14) - Almaric's AC(7) = 7. MISS
Finally, centipede #2 attacks, rolls (7) - Almaric's AC(7) = 0. MISS]

Almaric wards off two of the three creatures, but one of them finds a way though his defences and manages a small bite on his leg. The wound is minor but he feels a momentary wave of cramps ripple through his muscles, he has no idea what could have happened if the venom were stronger but he suspects he doesn't want to find out the hard way.

He realises that attacking the centipedes currently crawling on him without injuring himself is going to be awkward but it has to be done. Snapping his attention back to the creature that just bit him, Almaric swings his blade at it...

[/OOC Almaric attacks centipede #1. Needs an 8+, rolls (16) - **(centipede AC) = HIT!
Damage from longsword, (5) + STR mod.(2) + Fighter mod.(1) = 8 HP. KILLSHOT!]

...which reduces it to an exploded mess of red and black goo.

[/OOC Both the remaining centipedes are within range of his CLEAVE attack.
Cleaving sword swing at (random choice) centipede #2. Needs an 8+, rolls (10) - ** (centipede AC) = HIT!
Damage from longsword, (3) + STR mod.(2) + Fighter mod. (1) = 6 HP. DOUBLE-KILLSHOT!!]

His blade continues onwards and with well-honed reflexes, he finds another of the wriggling menaces. This one too is obliterated in a spray of ichor.

As it stands:
Almaric has lost 1 HP (now down to 8 HP)
Currently engaged in combat with 1 uninjured centipede.

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Almaric's Tale - Fighting the Black Centipedes - Round 3

[/OOC Initiative for this round: Almaric (8+1)=9. Centipede (18)
Because more than half of it's group was slain in a single round, the centipede must make a MORALE check. It rolls, (10) - 1(it's Morale mod.) - 2(for losing more than half its group) = 7. FIGHT ON]

Seemingly unaware of its companions demise, the centipede launches another attack at Almaric.

[/OOC Centipede attacks Almaric. Rolls, (17) - Almaric's AC(7)=10. HIT (just)
Damage is 1 HP and again, Almaric must save vs. Poison.
Saves on a 14+, rolls (18) + 1(CON mod.) +4(weak venom) = 23. SUCCESS]

The centipede manages to get its tiny mandibles through some of the links in Almaric's chain leggings and he again feels a slight scratch followed by the fleeting sense on muscle twinges that quickly shakes fades.

Bolstered by his smiting of the first two centipedes, Almaric swings at the remaining creature.

[/OOC Almaric's sword attack: needs 8+, rolls(4) -**(centipede AC)=MISS]

This time, Almaric swings wide.

As it stands:
Almaric has lost another 1 HP (now down to 7 HP)
Currently engaged in combat with 1 uninjured centipede

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Almaric's Tale - Fighting the Black Centipedes - Round 4

[/OOC Initiative for this round: Almaric (16+1)=17. Centipede (9)]

Almaric continues to battle on.

[/OOC Almaric swings his sword at the centipede. Needs an 8+, rolls (11) - **(centipede's AC) = HIT.
Damage from sword blow, (6) + 2(STR mod.) + 1(Fighter mod.) = 9 HP. KILL]

With a deft flick of his wrist, Almaric catches the wriggling centipede with the flat of his sword-blade and lofts it into the air. Even before the creature has a chance to try and right itself, his blade arcs out and arriving with a swish, ends its existence in a spray of sticky mess. Wiping his blade clean against the canvas of the tent, Almaric surveys the scene.

Having survived the attack of the black centipedes Almaric carefully inspects the decrepit tent. All it contains are a rotting bedroll and some other camp items, all decayed beyond use.

The fire pit has clearly not been used in several years. Moving the pine needles around with his sword tip, Almaric uncovers some fragments of bone. The bones are impossible to identify given their age and the fact that they were subject to fire. Otherwise, the pit is empty.

Deciding that there is nothing further of note here, Almaric turns his attention to the pathway east.

----------------------------------------------------------

The path here is overgrown and hard to follow. Again, the gurgle of running water reaches Almaric's ears before he clears the path. Emerging from some thick scrub, he discovers that the path is split by a quick-running stream. It is only about ten feet wide and it looks shallow. There is a pole embedded in the middle of the stream. The rotting remains of what looks like a bear head is impaled on the top of the pole.

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Almaric's Tale - The Bear's Head

With the path being so overgrown, Almaric doubts that the bandits came this way but he's too curious about who may have put the bear head on the pole.

After examining the immediate area and failing to find anything noteworthy, he carefully wades across the stream - checking the depth and his footing before moving.

Once on the other side, he continues along the path.

Following the path is not difficult in this area of the wood. The trees are large and very little undergrowth is present. Just ahead the path splits and Almaric is forced to make a decision.

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Almaric's Tale - The Encampment

Striking out north-east, Almaric expects to end up on the other side of the river that he didn't cross earlier.

Always on the alert for any possible threats from wildlife, he presses on, relying on his senses to alert him of anything untoward.

[/OOC General perception check. Target is 18+, rolled (20) +INT mod.(1)=21. SUCCESS]

The smell of something cooking drifts through the wood. It is not something most people would describe as pleasant. As the trees open ahead, Almaric sees three figures hunched around a cooking fire. They appear to be orcs and they are cooking something on spits. The carcass of a bear hangs from a nearby tree.

Almaric determines that although he is now on the other side of the stream, he is a fair distance south of where he thought he would be. The woods are thick all around here and there is no discernibly easy way to progress any further north from here.

GM NOTE: The natural '20' for his perception check gains Almaric's player a *bonus card* (see my House Rules).

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Almaric's Tale - The Orc Encampment

Having never encountered Orcs on his own before, Almaric considers fighting three of them at once may be too much, especially since he is slightly injured. With this in mind, he attempts to quietly return to the stream without alerting the creatures.

Keeping a close eye on the Orcs, Almaric backs away, preparing to take full flight should the alarm be raised and they creatures show signs of persuit...

Luckily, the Orcs were oblivious to his approach, concentrating more on their culinary arts than on their surroundings. Almaric quietly fades back down the way he came and arrives back at the stream with the mounted bear's head.

GM NOTE: The random *bonus card* is 'Might', +1 bonus to physical damage.

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Almaric's Tale - Back to the Bear Head

Almaric looks back the way he came, to the west and the clearing where his belongings await... but the new path to the south has piqued his curiosity.

Mindful that there are Orcs (and apparently bears) in the area, he moves as quietly as possible with his senses on high alert south down the new path.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The trail slowly descends into a hollow where the trees grow thicker and darker. Daylight struggles to break through the canopy of trees. Smaller scrub trees and brush threaten to overrun the trail until it finally emerges in a small clearing. A mound has been formed and dominates the area. Nothing grows on the mound and it is covered with small stones. A single entrance to the mound lies open.

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Almaric's Tale - The Mound

Mindful that he has no source of light with him, Almaric creeps up to the mound entrance - sword and shield ready - and listens for sounds of movement, whether it be orc or bear. Peering inside he decides that a light source is definitely needed as it is very dark within the mound and nothing is visible beyond a few feet.

After a few minutes spent listening intently at the entrance, Almaric has heard no sounds from within the mound. In fact, the area outside the mound is also oddly quiet. He decides to return to the clearing where his equipment is hidden.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Back at the clearing, Almaric checks on his cache of gear and is happy to find it all still exactly as he left it. He then takes stock of his options.

[/OOC: He has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - The Mound

Retrieving the previously hidden backpack, but leaving his recently recovered equipment hidden in the sack, Almaric returns to the oddly quiet mound.

-------------------------------------------

After taking a moment to discern how sturdy the mound is, Almaric clambers up on to it to examine the stones and see if they from any sort of pattern. Moving about the area is a little unbalancing since the footing is uneven and difficult but after a complete search, all he is able to determine is that entire mound is maybe 45-50' in diameter and rises to a height of around 15-20'. The stones on the top of the mound form a ring around the crown. What, if any, significance that may hold is lost to him. Beyond that, Almaric finds nothing of interest.

Returning to the ground, Almaric approaches the dark entrance. It is a little over 5' wide and is only just tall enough for him to stand fully upright, though he may occasionally bump his head if not careful. Organising his gear, he lights a torch and leaving his weapons sheathed, slowly and quietly enters the mound.

Once inside, Almaric discovers a short corridor leading to a single chamber that he estimates makes up the entirety of the inside. There are no decorations on the walls of the tunnel or chamber. Facing him in the centre of the chamber, a skeleton sits silently upon a stone throne. It holds a longsword across its lap. Remnants of fur-based clothing cover the skeleton and a tarnished helmet obscures most of its head.

Near the entrance sit a pair of tall braziers.

[/OOC: He has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the mound

Almaric moves to the braziers, his idea to use his torch to light them is rendered useless when he discovers they contain no fuel. However, as he scrapes away a thick layer of dirt and dust in an attempt to find something the least bit flammable, he uncovers coins within each. One contains 90 gold pieces and the other 48 platinum. A veritable treasure trove! And one that he quickly pockets, all the while keeping a watchful eye on his bony companion.

Once done, Almaric carefully approaches the throne, getting ready to drop the torch and draw his mace - an ideal weapon for brittle bones.

On closer inspection, the skeleton appears to be very old. The bones seem more calcified and a thick layer of dust covers everything. The sword is pitted and tarnished severely. The handle looks as if it will break away from the blade with the slightest touch. The helmet is tarnished but otherwise appears solid. Almaric notices the skeleton bears a plain silver ring around the index finger of its right hand...

[/OOC: He has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the mound

Although not normally someone to tempt fate, the crown and ring could at least be worth a few coins.

Almaric places his torch in a brazier in order to continue illuminating the chamber while he works. Next carefully, and standing behind the throne, Almaric reaches up and attempts to remove the helmet from the seated skeleton - acutely aware of where his mace is, should the bones animate in any way. His mind briefly flashing back to his childhood and scary stories being told in hushed voices around the campfires of his parents adventuring party where a swift bash to the noggin was oft the best way to deal with troublesome undead - though he silently prays this is not going to be one of those.

After a small amount of wiggling, the helmet finally comes away and he lifts it clear of the (now revealed) antique skull of its owner. After shaking it to dislodge any detritus that may have stayed stuck to its insides, he gives the helm a cursory look before placing it within his backpack. It appears solid and Almaric notes that it is probably made from brass.

[/OOC It is a fully functional heavy helmet (see House Rules); +1 AC, +2 on d20 roll on Mortal Wounds table, -1 surprise, -4 hear noise]

Having removed the helm and with no signs of trouble, Almaric moves around to the side of the throne and turns his attention to the silver ring. With no flesh to hold it, the ring slips easily from the bony finger and after a quick wipe down with his sack, Almaric studies it.

The ring is plain silver and it is inset with a single ruby. Satisfied with his finds, Almaric slips the ring onto one of his fingers.

[/OOC Random choice, left hand index finger.]

No sooner has the ring settled onto his skin (which it seemed to fit remarkably well) when Almaric hears a voice enter his head. "You are protected."

Spinning around to see if anyone else has appeared in the chamber, Almaric confirms that he is alone. Deciding that he does not like the turn of events that seem to be unfolding, he makes for his torch and the tunnel exit.

It is at this point that he sees the two red pin-prick glows that are advancing towards him from down the tunnel, seemingly forming out of the shadows themselves. Momentarily stunned, Almaric watches in horror as the very darkness of the tunnel coalesces into a dark and menacing shape - that of a dark shadow, man-like in appearance, which stands blocking the tunnel only a few feet away. The shadow points to the throne, but otherwise does not move. Behind the shadow, the tunnel appears obscured and hazy.

GM Note: It is at this point in a movie when the audience tends to shout out as one..."DOOOOOOOMED!"

[/OOC: He has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the mound

With the disembodied voice still echoing in his head, Almaric draws his mace and charges at the shadow-man. Shield in front, he attempts to run through it - half expecting to pass straight through and half to be bounced back...

[/OOC Initiatives for round 1: Almaric rolls (18+1)=19, Shadow-man (17)
Although Almaric doesn't have enough room to use the CHARGE manoeuvre which requires a 20' move, he does have other options (see ACKS core rules, p.109). Three in particular may be applicable here: FORCE BACK, KNOCK DOWN and OVERRUN].

GM Note: Without any definite course of action beyond attempting to 'bash' the creature, for this round I will assume it's a straightforward melee attack using the shield as an improvised weapon.
Almaric needs an 8+, rolls (5)-**(creature AC)=MISS. Or rather, a hit but no damage.

Almaric connects with his shield, backed up with his weight and a short run and is dismayed to find that although the creature appears to be a shadow, it is a shadow with substance. His blow did not even rock it - something that he feels would have happened to any normal target of such an attack.

In response, the thing merely moves its pointing finger from the direction of the throne and attempts to lay its dark-wrapped hand on Almaric...

[/OOC Creature tries to touch Almaric, rolls (12)-Almaric's AC(7)=MISS.]

...who narrowly avoids its touch.

The creature moves its hand back into position, again pointing a finger towards the throne.

[/OOC: Almaric is currently engaged in combat with some form of shadowy man-shaped creature. Both are currently unharmed from this fight, although Almaric is down to 7 HP from not attending to his previous wounds.He has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the mound

[/OOC Initiatives for round 2: Almaric (20+1)=21, Shadow-creature (15)]

Almaric backs away from the creature with his shield up to guard against any possible attack. He returns to the throne and with as much reverence as he can muster in the situation, reaches into his pack and withdraws the helm. With the barest of hand tremors, he replaces the helmet upon the head of the skeleton.

The shadow creature does not follow him. Instead it remains at the end of the tunnel, its finger still pointing at the throne and hellish red glowing eyes unwavering in their scrutiny of the young warrior.

GM Note: Almaric is not engaged but combat rounds are still in effect.

[/OOC We are still in combat mode. Almaric's 'natural 20' for his initiative roll has enabled him to draw another bonus card. The shadow-thing is unharmed and you are currently on 7 HP. Almaric has a *MIGHT* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the mound

[/OOC Almaric gained a new bonus card - *LUCK* (+1 bonus to any saving throw)
Initiative for round 3: Almaric (11+1)=12, shadowy-man (11)]

Looking at the Shadow (for this is what the creature appears to be made of) and the only exit being blocked by it, Almaric takes off the looted ring and replaces it on the finger of the skeleton.

[/OOC No finger specified, so chose the same as his - left index finger]

Hoping this will appease the shadow-man, he returns to the tunnel entrance and looks the Shadow in its glowing red eyes.

The red glow seems to pulse slightly brighter and then with the faintest of double head nods, the creature lowers its accusing finger and fades back into the darkness from where it came.

Almaric stands blinking in the suddenly brighter torchlight and looks longingly at the daylight now showing at the end of the tunnel.

[/OOC: Almaric is no longer in combat. He currently has 7 out of 9 HP remaining. He has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale

Emerging into the welcoming (and oddly reassuring) sunlight, Almaric makes a mental note about the treasures and guardian of this tomb. However, for the time being he must turn his back on it and return to the original clearing before finally trying the westward path in the hunt for Osgar and the bandits.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Following the path is not difficult in this section of the wood. The trees are large and there is very little undergrowth present. The path, once well-travelled, is worn clearly into the forest floor. Just ahead the path splits and Almaric will have to make a decision.

Continue following the path to the west?
Follow the path to the south?
Turn back east?
Do something else?

[/OOC: Almaric has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time. If you have not already done so, cross off the torch you left burning in the brazier, but add the coins you pocketed from same (48 pp and 90 gp).]

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Almaric's Tale

After a brief pause at the junction, Almaric decides to keep heading westward.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Spotting ruins amid the trees, Almaric slows his pace in caution.

An old and quite decrepit stone tower is clearly visible through the trees. The tower is no more than 30 feet tall, which is considerably shorter than most of the trees in the area that reach upwards of 80 feet.

Approaching closer, Almaric notes that the tower itself, though quite aged, appears solid enough. It has lost a few stones from its top that now lie embedded and risen from the ground like headstones at its base. A single, arched portal is the only entrance. If there was a door, it has long since decayed. He does not see any movement around the tower.

[/OOC: Almaric has a 7 of 9 HP and a *MIGHT* and *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - The Tower

Attempting to move as quietly as possible, Almaric approaches the doorway and peeks inside. After a short time spent listening for sounds of movement and allowing his eyes to get accustomed to the gloom, he moves through the entrance.

The tower is not very large and has only a small chamber inside. The entry level is bare, though a flight of stone stairs follow the outer wall and spiral to a platform near the ceiling. A trapdoor in the ceiling is set directly over this platform. The trapdoor has fallen inward and only small portions remain. The sky above is clearly visible through the trap door.

[/OOC: Almaric currently has 7 out of 9 HP remaining. He has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the Tower

The floor of the tower is bare earth and very little of interest is evident. A recent rain has entered through the open trap door and a pool of dirty water stands near the centre of the chamber. The soft breeze outside has caught the damaged trap door and it swings back and forth, squeaking eerily.

After taking time to search the lower level, Almaric carefully climbs the stairs - checking his footing before committing his full weight. Mid-way up the stairs, Almaric notices something like bird droppings on the top few stairs. Clearly a bird has nested in the tower ruins. As he reaches the platform, an ear-shattering squeak breaks the silence. Suddenly two birds break from a concealed nest in the loose stone of the tower near the ceiling. The birds dart inside the cramped tower and as they cross the light of the open trapdoor, Almaric can see they are not birds at all, but stirges! He is under attack...

[/OOC No surprise on either side. Round 1:Roll for initiative. Almaric (9+1)=10, Stirge #1(3), Stirge #2 (16)]

A Stirge darts in and attempts to jab its proboscis into Almaric's exposed flesh...

[/OOC Stirge #2 attacks Almaric. Rolls (5)+2(diving attack)-Almaric's AC(5 - he does not have his shield out yet)=2. MISS]

The creature fails to find a way through Almaric's armour.

Having seen the speed with which they fly, Almaric knows he cannot outrun them - his only advantage lies in the tower's confined space which might hamper their mobility. Drawing his sword and readying his shield, he lashes out at the one that attacked him...

[/OOC Almaric melee attacks Stirge #2. He needs an 8+ and rolls (12)-**(Stirge AC)=HIT
Damage from sword, (4)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod.(1)=7. KILLSHOT
The other Stirge is too far away to try and CLEAVE.]

The impact of his whistling sword-blade drive the remnants of the broken body against the far wall. A small, bloody stain marking its final sad nesting place.

[/OOC The remaining Stirge passes its forced Morale check at the death of its partner.]

The Stirge dives in to attack the killer of its mate...

[/OOC Stirge #1 attacks Almaric. Rolls (12)+2(diving attack)-Almaric's AC(7)=7. MISS]

But it too, fails to find a way to pierce the fighter's skin.

[/OOC: Almaric is engaged in combat with a Stirge. It is uninjured and he has 7 out of 9 HP remaining.
He has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the Tower, fighting the Stirges

[/OOC Round 2: Roll for initiative. Almaric (15+1)=16, Stirge #1(15)]

Since he is already engaged in combat with the Stirge, Almaric decides to press his advantage of close quarters and attacks the diminutive creature.

[/OOC Almaric swings his sword at the Stirge. He needs an 8+ and rolls (14)-**(Stirge AC)=HIT.
Damage from sword, (1)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod(1)=4 HP.]

His sword swing deals a glancing blow that, although badly injuring it, fails to kill it.

The Stirge retaliates and tries to attack Almaric again...

[/OOC Stirge #1 jabs its beak at Almaric. Rolls (19)-Almaric's AC(7)=12. HIT
Damage is 2 HP]

...this time Almaric feels a tiny stab of pain as its sharp proboscis penetrates his flesh and the creature greedily begins to feed on his blood.

[/OOC I have enough rolls from you so I will advance on to Round 3.
Initiatives: Almaric (7+1)=8, Stirge #1(2)]

Seeing the tiny critter desperately clinging to his body as it continues to drain his blood, Almaric knows that he will soon grow too weak to combat it. Mustering his strength he attempts to remove the foul thing before it can do any more damage...

[/OOC Almaric attacks the Stirge. Needs an 8+, rolls (18)-**(Stirge AC)=HIT.
Damage from sword, (1)+STR mod.(2)+Fighter mod(1)=4. KILLSHOT]

With a swift downward blow, Almaric knocks the Stirge off him onto the floor. Apparently the combination of the sword hit and the impact against the floor is enough to kill the creature.

Now that the fight is over, there are no other sounds in the tower beyond the gentle squeak of the swaying trapdoor.

[/OOC: Almaric is no longer in combat. He is injured and currently has 5 out of 9 HP remaining.
He has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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Almaric's Tale - Inside the Tower (the aftermath)

Before doing anything else, Almaric tends to his injury in case the foul creatures should carry some kind of infection. Sitting down on the top stair, he sets about cleaning and binding the small puncture wound.

[/OOC Use a bandage and regain 2 HP. NOTE: A (4) was rolled but you can't get back more health than was lost in the fight, even if you still have missing health. See House Rules.]

Feeling better, though not fully healed, Almaric is at least sure that there should be no further complications to his health due to the wound. He now turns his attention to a possible nest area for the pair of stirges.

Although it is difficult to see into the gloomy shadows beneath the rafters of the roof, Almaric soon discovers the fetid thing that is the stirge nest - more by smell than by sight. Inside, amidst the faeces he spots a tarnished silver necklace. After retrieving it and giving it a bit of a clean, Almaric is quite surprised to discover the necklace to be a thick herring-bone chain holding a beautiful emerald. The necklace is easily worth a couple of hundred gold coins. The necklace goes into the small sack in his backpack and he hauls himself up on to the roof of the tower to see what it holds or at least in the hope that he can get a look at the surrounding area.

At one time the view from the tower roof must have commanded an unparalleled panorama of the surround lands. Now however, all he can see are the trees that surround the tower. It is even difficult to see the ground through the overhanging tree limbs.

Climbing back down, Almaric decides to rest a while in the tower and have lunch while taking stock of his current situation.

[/OOC: You have gained: a herring-bone emerald necklace. You have lost: a bandage.
Almaric currently has 7 out of 9 HP remaining.
He has a *MIGHT* and a *LUCK* bonus available for use at any time.]

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