Saturday, May 11, 2013

032 - Bulky trolls in narrow tunnels

Session 10 - Would you like to be my neighbor? 

This session takes place as the members of the Palantir commission are returning to Annuminas to determine what lies within the ruined city. In the previous session, they ran into a number of orc workers busying at erecting an enclave around a few rough buildings. 

An unexpected encounter

The last scene left the Palantir commission members in possession of an Orc prisoner and a pile of bodies. The orc camp was suspiciously featureless: an enclave made of a rough palisade and two buildings. The first building was built from stone walls from within a large ruined mansion, the other was a neater-built wooden structure.

While Galdor occupied himself finishing orcs laying about, Arnadil, Halin and Irina busied themselves in setting a watch. Finbert and Kasper entered the stone building from where a small plume of smoke was coming from. They found a rough kitchen. Something was cooking over the fire. A set of stairs lead to a lower level, some 15' down, and ended against a heavy grate. The grate was mounted over the door frame and could be removed by simply pulling two pins near the top. Whatever this grate was put up for, it wasn't to keep out smart invaders. The cellar was filled with junk: shovels and picks, fire wood. A torch was lighting the place. Finbert climbed on Kasper's shoulder and reached the pin with his hobbitish hands. Another grate was covering the approach from a set of stairs heading down. There was a door on the opposing wall, as well as a door on both left and right. The voice of excited children could be heard beyond the door on the right. Children, there is no such thing as juvenile orcs right?

Finbert fetched the rest of the company, but left Galdor to keep a watch and the prisoner. The company stacked behind the door and bursted in. The throng of children ran in fear to the far end of a wine cellar. The hobbits sneaked in the cellar to follow the children while Arnadil followed, sword in hand. They were met with a number of Northmen women interposing between the party members and their kids. One of them was holding a club, but to her surprise, Finbert snatched it from her hands, covered by Irina [ This was the first playtest of the Evaluate (combat opening), Finbert was standing in the shadow of an oak barrel and managed to remain unseen, he called for an Evaluate(combat opening) the outcome was a bonus for a weapon strike if he selected an all-out attack . Still unseen, Finbert decided to go for it with an all-out attack (determined), and got a net +5 to grapple the club and ripped it from the woman's hand ] [+]. Arnadil and one of the women began to argue. The women asked them to leave, she stated in broken Westron that nothing of value was to be found in this place. After a bit of interrogation, the women told the company that they were all cowering underground to protect themselves from the witch-king blight. They also told the company that there were some trolls in the lower levels [ Interrogation vs Will won by a large margin. Overall reaction was determined to be poor, but the women were in a position of weakness while protecting 13 children.] [+]. Arnadil ordered them to leave the camp with the children and locked them out after resetting the grate.

The witch-king blight was probably making reference to an epidemic of ghouls that was released by the WitchKing of Angmar during the war with the Arthedains. The company did not particularly looked forward to deal any more with the dead. 

They scoured the place, which was once the cellar level of a very large mansion. They found weapons, a large sharpening stone, about enough bedding for 20 orcs or Northmen. One of the Orc dwelling had a larger bed behind a makeshift wooden division. They found beside the bed a small chest filled with silver and some gold, and a collection of three elven skulls. At the far end was a lair for wargs, also empty at the moment. 

The only unexplored part of the cellar was now the set of downward stairs beyond the other grate. A small horn was hung on a peg beside the grate. Galdor released the women and children that were held prisoner in the kitchen and joined the company. The stairs were narrow and steep: a perfect place to engage trolls
coming from below.

Bulky trolls in narrow tunnels

The company knew that a number of trolls were present below the cellar level of the mansion. Arnadil sounded the alarm by blowing on the horn. He descended a few steps, followed by the other members. The hope was that the trolls would meet them and fight an uphill battle in a very narrow passage. However, although some noise could be heard in the distance, the trolls did not come. The company carefully advanced and reached the stairs' landing some 30 yards below. Another grate could be seen on the left, but the corridor itself kept on going straight ahead. It was possible to hear a quiet shuffle of heavy feet in the dark. 

Two charging trolls realizing that
they had just decided to run into the dreaded
troll slayers.

While Finbert was trying to pull on the pins, a large stone flew out of darkness into Arnadil's shield, making a large thunk. Behind followed two large female trolls, charging madly to close in on Arnadil and Kasper. The first troll collapsed, fast asleep, before reaching the company. The second troll jumped over her friend to slam into Arnadil. Arnadil cleverly side-stepped the charge [ Arnadil applied the side stepping technique described here ] [+] and made way for Halin's waiting hammer. The hammer lodged itself into the troll's leg but slipped from his hands under the momentum of the charge. While Halin was trying to wrestle his hammer back into his hands, Kasper and Arnadil delivered heavy blows to the troll's torso. In writhing pain, the troll attempted to grab Halin by the neck, but was then felled by one of Irina's arrow in her chest. Galdor dodged the falling body. The anemic trolls of Middle-Earth had yet again made a poor show of themselves and died too fast (Time to ramp up the challenge rating of the opposition, me think). 

The company entered the adjacent room beyond the grate and found a vault now used as a dormitory for orcs.  There was nothing much in there of value, except a small bag of coins underneath the pelts of  the leader's bed. They dragged the trolls into the room, laid one of them grotesquely on their dining table and the other in their leader's bed. 

The hobbits celebrating atop one of the female troll.
Beyond the vault, they found a complex of tunnels that was part of the defensive structure of the high-city in the days of the Arthedains. The troll lair was there. They traveled west up to the river crossing but found that the hall was flooded chest-deep in frigid water. Although Arnadil suspected that the tunnels would probably lead all the way to the citadel and the library, the company decided that soaking themselves up to get there was a bad idea. 

On their way out of the camp, they destroyed the sharpening stones and threw the little weapons of values under the ice of Lake Evendim. The women and the prisoner had left while they were exploring the camp. There was only a few hours of light, and no way to tell when the bulk of the orcs and Northmen would come back. They decided to head back to the horses and return to the Shire. They got to Longcleeve a few hours into the night. 

Reflecting on the day's toils over a warm hearth, they decided that the terrorized orcs would probably be on the defensive in the coming few days. They settled on returning to Bywater for a week. Then they could decide whether to return to the library as planned. Many in the company argued that this foray in Annuminas was not really helping the search of the Palantir of Arnor.

A glimpse of the Palantir of Arnor

The week in Bywater went quickly. Everyone busied themselves with merriment and errands. Halin, Finbert and Irina sparred together in mock wrestling contests: but the lightweight hobbits and the legendarily strong dwarfs were not exactly even matched. Arnadil spent the week riding his warhorse across the Shire. Galdor spent time with his dogs and played dice, Kasper read in the peace of his bedroom and Araliniel studied the seeker spell.

On the eve of their departure for Annuminas, Araliniel declared that she had managed to put together the pieces of the seeker spell and was about to be able to cast it. It took her two more days of high anticipation before she emerged from her room, a bright smile on her face,

"I have seen the Palantir of Arnor. It is atop an altar in a temple, somewhere on the frozen shore of a very desolate place". The news came as a big surprise as the Palantir was thought to lay beneath the waves of the frozen bay of Forochel. It seems somehow possible that the Palantir had been retrieved and placed into a temple somewhere in the frozen North of Middle-Earth. 

The company poured over maps. They needed to know more about Forochel, and find a way to get there. Traveling overland and off road into the Forodwaith in the stone-cold middle of an unnatural winter didn't appealed to them! The Shire was eating up their budget very fast. They decided to set winter quarter in Tharbad. There, they can send news to Tarquillan the High Seer, and hopefully get their hands on some information on the Ice bay of Forochel and the Lossoth people.

1 comment:

  1. Big fan of the new evaluate. I think it is a great idea.