Apologies for the delay readers, Sarah and myself have been busy playing through the Burning Light campaign over the last couple of months, as well as, well life!
As part of our ongoing campaign, we’ve been playing some custom scenarios, that focus on our cast of companions whilst the main missions occur. The aim of these custom scenarios was to help build the narrative surrounding the main campaign, so it didn’t feel like the main heroes were the entire focus of the story as well as give us chance to involve some of the other companions in the action and build on our ongoing story!
This time around we decided to do something drastic, which our campaign had been building to for some time; during the unrest, a treasonous faction in the Alladore army, as well as members of the Tallis city guard make an attempt to overthrow the King, with only the loyal Ravens of Alladore poised to intervene…
Lets get on to the narrative!
Treason in Tallis:
The onset of the Shadow Deep crisis has plunged Alladore into chaos. All across the capital city of Tallis, unrest and rioting threatened to erupt as food and provisions became short. An uprising of disaffected refugees was quickly quashed by Captain Willem’s city guard, who had become crueler and quicker to dispense harsher judgement, their nerves and patience fraught. Across the country, seditious words were spoken about the young king and his response to the crisis.
Meanwhile Alladore’s military forces were placed under the command of Baron Audric, a distant cousin of the king, who was mobilizing forces to the front line in expectation of the inevitable advance of the Shadow Deep. Those close to Audric knew he had long harboured an unspoken ambition for the crown and had ever been critical of the young ruler, King Arethic. With the threat of the Shadow Deep looming over Alladore, the panicked populace began to turn on each other or look towards their rulers with blame, projecting their fears inwardly. Seeing a perfect opportunity, Audric had begun to surround himself with influential leaders loyal to his secret cause. On the eve of the invasion from the Shadow Deep, he plays his hand…
Sending the kings most loyal servants across the country on wild goose chases to the distant frontlines, Audric and those loyal to him made their move. Chief amongst these allies was Captain Willem, the leader of Tallis’ city watch, who had long resented the Ravens of Alladore, seeing them as feeling they were above the laws of the city, he wanted to end their existence once and for all. Also drawn to the Baron’s side for his own unknown reasons, was the Kings chief spymaster, the nefarious ‘Weasel’, who had promised to bring the king within Audric’s grasp and had recently returned to the capital disaffected by the war effort. As Tristan and Freja rushed to the frontlines (in the events of Blood Moon), chaos erupted in Tallis as Audric made his move…
Throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning, chaos erupted on the streets of Tallis. Small, rolling skirmishes between the forces loyal to the king and those pledging themselves to Audric’s rebellion filled the city streets with the clamour of battle. Brother was pitted against brother and the once peaceful streets were filled with blood. As the morning progressed, the city had been given over to rioting and unrest. Small fires had broken out and soon, entire sections of the city were ablaze.
Drawing up his battle plan, Baron Audric’s men begin their attack on the King’s palace, whilst the Weasel would lead the Baron and his most trusted men through a secret passage to the throne room itself! Fearing the intervention of the Ravens, Audric dispatches Captain Willem and the city watch to siege Raven’s keep and end the Ravens of Alladore once and for all!
Having fought their way back towards Raven’s keep, the ancestral home of their order, a scattered and bedraggled band of the Ravens of Alladore had fortified the bridge over the Althran river. Lord Arrin Hausgood had taken a number of the heroes away with some secret plan to try and turn the order of the battle, leaving Sir Bors and a handful of loyal Ravens to guard the keep.
His visor open, Sir Bors gazed across the river, as the acrid smoke from the burning market district filled the air. There in the distance, he could see a gathering crowd of men, the flames of the fire reflecting from the steel of their weapons and helms, illuminating their tattered blue uniforms. Bors turned to the small assemblage of Ravens who had made it back to the keep and tried to rally them with his best speech.
“Listen up Ravens. I’m not going to tell you this is going to be easy. They probably outnumber us two to one. They’re well armoured, well equipped and they want nothing less than seeing us all dead. When you joined the Ravens you made an oath to defend the King against any enemy, those bastards in the watch are now the enemy. I don’t care if you played cards with ’em, fucked their sisters or had the same wet nurse. They’ve crossed a line and decided their own fate. No quarter asked and none given. Besides they’ve burned down our favourite tavern. Get to your position and make ’em pay or die trying Ravens”!
As the Raven’s rushed to man the defences, Johrn joined Bors at the barricade. “Wow. Some speech sir”, he sneered. “Shut up!” Bors replied with a grin as he lowered his visor. “Now get ready, here they come…”
Before we proceed further, lets see some pictures of the table set-up! The rules were simple. A handful of our companions had to defend the keep from their enemies for 10 turns. The enemy forces consisted of 5 men at arms, 5 archers and Captain Willem (Knight). Lets see some pictures of the table set-up:
Captain Willem arranged his men into formation. Some of them were well known to him and loyal friends from the watch. Others were from Audric’s forces, drawn from Alladore’s armies. As they prepared to advance, Willem reflected on the events of the last few hours. It had been a bloody and difficult day, he had fought and killed members of the watch still loyal to the king himself, but it would be worth it if that brat Arethic was finally un-throned and the blasted Ravens were finally brought to heel. From the ashes of the old order a new regime would be forged, one where capable authority was rewarded and those fit to rule would take their rightful place. Addressing his men he shouted above the roar of the flames. “Those cursed black cloaked vagabonds are enemies of the people and those who would rightfully rule. Whilst the people suffer and the country stands on the brink of destruction, they flaunt the authority and patronage of their upstart king. It’s well past time they saw their end and today is the day we make that happen”! With a cheer, they began their advance…
The scattered members of the Raven’s take up their defensive positions…
Hearing the distant cheers of their enemy, Bors and the defenders at the barricade shift uneasily. Johrn looks forlorn across at the runious redwolf tavern, hoping young Sal, his favourite barmaid made it to safety. Bounding up behind them, Boye, Ollaine’s faithful wardog, one of the survivors of Tor Varden, takes position behind her. Ollaine glances down and allows a brief smile to cross her face before turning back to face the horizon.
Trying to control her panic and breathe steadily, the young healer from Tollonia, Sister Genima takes up a position behind a ruined cart. As Ilyse rummages in her pouches for spell components, Genima speaks up, a termor in her voice. ” If they make it across the bridge, I..I.. won’t fight them, my oath prevents me from taking lives, I simply can’t…”. Ilyse shouts a reply over her shoulder as she runs towards Bors and the others “Sister, if they get past us, I don’t think a single scared nun would make much of a difference. Say a prayer for me…”
As Ilyse reaches the barricade she motions for Bors to step to one side, she chants under her breath and waves her hand, casting a burning mark in the middle of the bridge ahead of them…
Meanwhile, Willem’s forces continue their steady advance through the smoke of the crumbling buildings around them towards Raven’s keep…
As they reach the fountain, Mikael fires a shot off towards them, which clatters harmlessly against the fountain. He curses under his breath and the enemy raise their shields in defence.
Frantically, Ilyse casts another burning mark, this time nearer the barricade itself. Having used two of her spells, she dashes backwards, diving behind the barricade alongside Kris.
As Willem’s men approach the bridge, Allain, Mikael and Roderik let loose a volley of arrows, but in the smoke, their arrows fail to find their targets…
Trying to temp Willem into breaking rank, Bors shouts out a challenge, from beyond the barricade “Come on then Willem you churl, stop your mincing and come and face me!!”
Mikael hastily looses arrow after arrow at the advancing enemies, unsure from this distance whether his arrows are finding their targets, though in truth, a couple of arrows have glanced some of the traitors, causing them to falter in their tracks.
His men seeming to hesitate before daring the bridge, Willem orders them on, “Don’t falter now! The enemies are within our reach, CHARGE”!! As the treacherous warriors break into a charge and set their feet on the bridge, a blinding explosion detonates in front of them as they trigger Ilyse’s first trap. Singed bewildered and coughing on the smoke, their advance is temporarily halted.
Taking up position on the river banks, enemy archers let loose their first volley, aiming at the defenders of the barricade…
Crying out in pain, Sir Bors almost drops his sword as with horror he sees an arrow sticking through his gloved hand. Cursing he ducks down as another bolt smashes into one of the tables forming the barricade…
Stepping over some of the casualties from earlier in the day, Willem’s men draw up their shields and tighten their defence, advancing more cautiously. As they close in on the the Ravens, another deafening explosion blasts up in front of them as the next burning mark ignites. This time, more prepared the blast fails to damage them. From her nearby vantage point, Ilyse shouts in disappointment.
From by the ruins of the red wolf tavern the archers let loose another volley of arrows, Alain curses and steps back behind the statue as the arrows fly past him.
The archers nearest the bridge continue to fire at the beleaguered defenders of the barricades. This time, one of their missiles ricochets over the barricade and Kris winces as it cuts into his ankle.
Ducking back from behind the statue, Alain readies a shot and fires into the men on the bridge. Caught from a side angle, one of the advancing enemies is caught full in the shoulder, dropping his shield to one side, mortally wounded but still standing.
Alain’s triumph is caught short, as spying his hiding place , one of the archers on the bridge draws and arrow and snap fires at the exposed Raven.
Caught off guard, Alain tries to step back but too late. The arrow pierces his chest with a terrible impact and he is thrown backwards, his head colliding with the stone of the floor.
“Haha! I got one lads!” The archer shouts from his vantage point on the bridge. His comrades jeer before firing their own arrows towards the battlements, forcing Roderik to duck back down behind cover.
Choosing his moment, Roderik jumps up from cover and fires a bolt towards the advancing enemies on the bridge, but curses as he misses his mark yet again!
Pausing for a brief moment, Willem shouts out from behind the wall of sheilds amassed before the barricade. “Bors, this is your last chance, throw down your sword and surrender. You’re no knight, you’re a common curr, with no right to wear that armour. You’re finished”. Snapping off the arrow stuck in his hand and grimacing with pain, Bors retorts through gritted teeth “Come and fight us then traitor, you’ll not find us wanting”! The end of his speech is cut short as Willem and his men shout and charge the barricade. Battle is joined with a whirl of blades and a confusion of shouts…
Seeing his opportunity, one of the men at arms launches himself across the barrier swinging wildly at Ollaine. With lightning reactions, Ollaine lashes out with her own blade, gutting the man with one stroke. The soldier falls to one side slumped over the barricade.
With a flurry of blows, the wounded soldier and Willem strike at the defenders. Johrn nearly falls backwards but manages to stand his ground, whilst Bors isn’t so lucky. Unable to bring his sword to bear with his wound, Willem quickly parries it to one side and stabs forward, piercing his armour. Clutching his side, the Raven’s knight curses as he sees blood pour out onto his hand.
Seeing the carnage ensue and Bors bleeding violently from his wound, Genima cries out in alarm. Summoning her courage she runs out from behind the cart towards the barricade, frantically chanting a healing spell.
At the barricade, Sir Bors is enveloped in a healing glow and feels his strength return as his wounds stitch back together. With a mad grin he roars and charges back into battle!
Rushing the enemy, the wounded soldier brings down a blow too slow. Swinging his sword in a massive arc, Bors cuts the wounded man’s head clean in half and the dead soldier crashes backwards.
Locking blades at the barricade, Willem spits as he realizes who he is fighting “Ollaine Thatchwright! Your’e a common criminal and a disgrace to Alladore!! The fact you’re not rotting in some dungeon shows the contempt your brat king shows to us all! Die you fucking scum”! “He pushes Ollaine back and swipes at her but she quickly raises her shield and deflects the blow. “At least I still serve our king” she retorts “How will history remember you sir? I will tell you: a traitor an blackguard till the last…”
Caught out in the open without defence, Genima is left open to attack. Spying her from across the bank one of the archers alerts his companion “Look, a bloody Tollonian Nun! Hah! Lets see if the saints are with her”! With that he fires and with a scream of pain, Genima falls to the ground as the arrow plunges into her leg.
At the barricade, Ilyse and Kris dodge arrows and Kris fires back, hitting an archer in the arm. “Things are looking desperate Ilyse, we’ll be over run if we don’t start turning the tide soon…”
As the battle continues, Boye strikes back at the men at arms as they try to flank his master. Ollaine pushes back with her shield, catching Willem off gaurd and knocking him backwards, but before she can press any advantage the men swarm her again…
The archers on the other side of the bank fire again, this time towards the battlements where Roderik is preparing to fire once more. An arrow stick into his arm and he drops his crossbow…
From his position in the tower, Mikael continues to fire arrows into the enemy troops, occasionally allowing himself a worried glance towards Alain. Struggling to see through the smoke, Mikael feels a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach as he sees Alain lying prone and lifeless on the floor. “NO! Come on Alain get up, get up….” he shouts to himself.
Drawing herself up and fighting back the pain Genima crawls behind the barricade and collapses behind Ilyse, the arrowhead still caught in her leg and the white of her robes stained with blood. More arrows impact into the barricade beside them as Kris struggles to find his targets. With a tremendous crash, the first floor of one of the buildings overlooking the river collapses. As the smoke billows upwards, Ilyse sees one of the enemy archers illuminated in the fire light. Angrily chanting a spell she stands up full length behind the barrier and lets loose a mighty bolt of energy. Before he can realize what has befallen, the archer explodes in a fiery blue ball of arcane power as the arc of energy ignits his tunic, killing him instantly.
At the barricade, Willem charges back into the melee, swiping out at Ollaine once again. Johrn is beset by men at arms and cries out in crippling pain as sword stroke slashes into his shoulder. Back at the second barricade, Ilyse has ducked behind cover once again and examines Genima’s wound. “Shit. Doesn’t look good. Why don’t you use a healing spell?” Genima winces, before quietly replying “I’d rather suffer myself and save my spell for the others”. Hearing Johrn scream at the barricade, she stands and as if to emphasize her point, casts her last healing spell on Johrn, who sighing with relief, prepares to continue to fight…
At the barricade, Ollaine slashes out again at Willem, catching him in his flank with her sword. Willem presses forward again with more blows from his sword and Ollaine is forced to duck behind her shield. Seeing an opportunity to break the line, one of the men at arms prepares to bring a crushing blow on the side of Ollaine’s head. Seeing her mortal peril, her brave animal companion, Boye jumps up to deflect the blow, catching the force of the blow in his leg and falling unconscious to the floor besides the barricade.
Enraged Ollaine strikes back at the men on the bridge, her blows rebounding from their shields. To her left Johrn and Bors struggle against other assailants, knocking one back but failing to strike any decisive blows. From the other side of the river, the shape of archers could be made out against the smoke, and further volleys of arrows splintered into the barricade beside her. From behind the men at arms to her front, Captain Willem leered at her “You can’t hope to win Thatchwright”, he spat, “You’ll fall beside your wretched hound before the day is through”! The treacherous captain charged forward again. Ollaine was outnumbered with Willem and two men at arms bearing down on her. As she frantically tried to parry or block the rain of blows with her shield, Willem jabbed forward with his sword, slicing a gash across her right cheek. Reeling, she began to buckle as the soldiers pushed the advantage, weighing down on her shield and trying to strike over it to finish her off. Drawing her strength, with a mighty heave, she threw the soldiers back with her shield arm tripping one in the process. Willem stepped forward into the breach slashing at her again, knocking her shield loose from her hand. Willem began to gloat, but his speech was cut short. Clutching her sword with both hands, Ollaine sprang up onto the top of the barricade towards her foe. Hefting her sword high overhead, she brought it down with a massive crushing blow. Hastily drawing his shield up, Willem stuttered in disbelief as the blow cleaved right through the shield cutting it in two and continued with irresistible force, crushing his helm and smashing into his skull. His sword arm fell limp to his side as his eyes clouded with blood, as Ollaine freed her sword, he staggered backwards in a crumpled heap.
Seeing the tide of battle turning and the look of furious disbelief on the face of the enemies. Bors hacked madly at the man in front of him, cutting the arm off his opponent, before smashing him to one side with another deadly blow from his sword.
As he righted himself from his last powerful swing, another enemy stepped forward over the bodies of his comrades swinging wildly with his axe. His blow rebounded off Bors’ helmet and Johrn dug his own axe into the man’s side. As the man faltered, Bors was on him in an instant, swinging his sword round and cutting the traitors head clean off!
Though their captain was downed, the battle was far from over and the enemies showed no sign of defeat as yet. Seeing a break in the onslaught of arrows, Kris sprang up and fired true! The archer on the bridge, took the arrow straight through his calf as he tried to back away to cover, stumbling down onto his back.
Firing a bolt from his crossbow, Roderik also scores a hit on an archer across the bank, watching with a grim pleasure as his bolt slams into the man’s midriff.
At the bridge, the remaining men at arms piled in on Ollaine, determined to avenge their fallen captain. Succumbing to exhaustion she fell backwards from the barrier, finding her feet but horribly outnumbered. Watching on, Johrn froze. For one dark moment, his mind was filled with some sinister impulse. He thought of his fallen comrade and friend, Lucas, who had died at Ollaine’s own hands. His mind clouded with a strange darkness. Maybe it would be fitting if she were to fall here in battle, after all her transgressions? Johrn was nearly overcome with this strange evil influence…
“COME ON JOHRN? YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER?!” Snapping back to reality, he banished the evil thought as Bors shouted beside him. With a crazed look in his eyes and his battered armour covered in blood, Bors leaped across the barricade to meet their foe. Shouting his own battle cry, Johrn scrambled over after him.
Taking aim from the tower, Mikael saw the wounded archer on the bridge trying to crawl back to safety. He glanced over at his brother, laying stricken on the cobbled street in the distance, un-moving. The simple words of Bors’ crude speach came back to him; no quarter given. Drawing back his bow he fired his arrow and watched with dull recognition as the pitiless archer’s head snapped back, the shaft of the arrow embedded in his neck.
Fighting desperately at the barrier, Ollaine takes a blow to her wrist and begins to falter. With her last ounce of strength she picks up her shield and tries to defend herself.
Seeing her plight, this time without a second thought, Johrn strikes his axe into the soldier’s back, his slain foe falls over the barricade before he can harm Ollaine.
The last remaining man at arms circled round and stepped forward slashing his axe at Bors, who quickly side stepped and plunged his blade into the man’s chest, kicking him off the end of his sword, sir Bors grinned as he turned towards the archers on the other side of the bridge.
Flying back from the front-lines carrying an urgent message, Eltharion, one of the Raven’s trained hunting birds, had been gazing down at the battle. Disorientated by the smoke and fire and her animal instincts confused, she circled overhead. Seeing familiar blue and black uniforms alike, she was unsure what to do. Then she spied a man wearing a blue tunic draw a bow to fire at a familiar black clad figure on the bridge. She made her decision and swooped down at the archer. Clawing at his face, the archer dropped his arrow. Eventually freeing himself from the bird, he clubbed at her with his bow. Knocking her aside, he wiped the blood from his face where she had scratched at him with furious talons. Eltharion limped off before flying away, her message undelivered for now…
Seeing their comrades fallen on the bridge, the remaining archers began to panic, firing once last volley at the battlements towards Roderick.
As an arrow whizzed past his ear, Roderick instinctively darted backwards to avoid the shot! Narrowly avoiding the arrow, he lost his footing and fell backwards, smashing his head on the battlements and knocking himself out cold.
Spotting another mark, Mikael goes into a strange trance like state as he draws another arrow, aims carefully and fires once again. The archer is slain as an arrow pierces his side and he slumps against the nearby fence.
Seeing their comrades fall all around them, the remaining archers panic and overcome with fear, flee the market district in haste…
Epilogue Part One:
As Bors surveyed the carnage around him, he wiped his sword clean on the tunic of a fallen soldier. Johrn met his gaze with a single nod and a sigh of relief. As he clambered back across the barricade, Ollaine was on her haunches kneeling over Boye. The poor animal had come round but whimpered in pain. Looking at his smashed front leg, Bors could tell that the hound would be lame. Rushing from cover to reach them, the others came closer, Genima leaning on Ilyse and limping, her leg wrapped in a make shift dressing. A few moments later, they saw the mighty oak doors of the keep swing open and Mikael run headlong across the square, shouting for his brother Alain. Releasing herself from Ilyse, Genima stumbled across the square after him. Mikael knelt besides his fallen brother but seeing the sister approach jumped up and shook her, ‘Do something!! One of your damn spells!! Anything!!” he implored her through tears. Attending to Alain, she could instantly tell that it was too late for the noble Raven. “I’m sorry…” she began but Mikael had already strode away in despair. Turning to his comrades at the bridge, Bors took stock. “Johrn, you better see if Roderik lives and then get back here, we need to make our way to the palace as soon as possible and pray that Arrin’s cunning hasn’t failed yet…”
Making their way through the winding passage towards the throne room, Baron Audric and his men could hear the clamour of the battle above them, as the forces loyal to the king desperately defended the palace from Audric’s ragged army. “How much further Weasel?! I will have my prize and my crown”! the Baron demanded. “Not much further now my lord” the Weasel replied from the rear. Glimpsing light ahead, the Baron and his men saw the edge of a secret door. With a groan and a shower of dust, they opened the secret passage emerging in the vast corridors of the palace. As their eyes adjusted to the light they found themselves by the door to the very throne room itself. Laughing with glee, the Baron drew his sword “Now men, we catch the wretched child king and end this once and for all”! Barging through the door he burst into the throne room, his men falling in behind him.
The Baron stopped in disbelief. Sitting ahead of them in the throne, his leg crossed across his lap, his pipe in his mouth was Lord Arrin Huasgoode of the Ravens. “Ahh, about time you joined us Baron. Perhaps now we can end this little coup?” he said smugly. As the Baron frantically cast his eyes around the room, more and more black clad figures emerged from behind the columns of the throne room. “B-B-But the king..?” he began, “Spirited away by my men out of the city and out of the reach of those who would harm him” Arrin interrupted as he stood and strode towards the Baron confidently. Audric turned madly to see that his exit had been locked, the Weasel, barring the way. “Weasel…” he began. Pulling the scarf from round his mouth, the weasel smiled a sinister smile, “You think I would betray the King for you, you curr? We’ve had our eye on you for some time ‘Baron’, it was a small matter to alert lord Hausgoode and draw you into our trap”. Crestfallen and in disbelief, Audric’s men formed a circle around him but quickly began to throw down their weapons. Arrin stepped forward, “You played your part well Weasel. As it happens you will be staying in the palace tonight after all Audric! Now my fair Baron, lets see if we can’t find you and your friends some suitable board in the cells below the palace…”
Wow! Sorry for the long post, I got a bit carried away with the storytelling on this one! I wanted our companion mission to be a major story event this time, with some drastic and difficult odds. For a while, halfway through the battle, I worried I’d maybe made the odds too hard for us, but after Ollaine’s miraculous critical hit killed the treacherous Willem we seemed to go on a killing streak. Sadly Alain didn’t make it, becoming the latest Raven to die in action. Boye recovered but with a smashed leg. Fortunately, Roderik and Eltharion both made full recoveries!
The scenario itself was a basic setup but as always with this game, the real enjoyment comes from the investment we have in the setting, the characters and the context of the dice rolls! Hope you enjoyed the batrep and the sense of drama we had playing was conveyed in the narrative! We were nervous wrecks by the end of it!
- Order is restored in the capital, but how long can the peace last as the forces of the Shadow Deep prepare for a full scale invasion with renewed effort?
- Returning to the capital, Freja and Tristan are sent on a desperate mission of hope into the Shadow Deep itself in the climactic end to the first Chapter of our Campaign… BURNING LIGHT!