Wednesday, March 6, 2013

015 - Sniffing the air for a winter drake.

This encounter reports on a solo session with the campaign's new addition: Irina Took. It was meant to be both a send-off and a playtest. It worked out great: we used the invention rules (see last part), had some role play and lots of exploration of what can be done with a ST 6 hobbit without an ounce of aggression in her (and a 25lb bow).

October 20th FA 15

It snowed in and around the Shire since early-September. Folks in the Shire are worried: there is something queer about this weather, but no one can imagine the real reason for all that snow. Irina knows, and she'd rather not spread the word.

She met in Bree with the Shire's bounders and Dunadain rangers in early September. The rangers are pretty sure that the hatchling of a winter drake has descended from the Blue Mountains. Since then, it has been prowling in the low-lands for food and a hoard. There are reports in the Northfarthing of missing livestock coinciding with snow squalls and general bad weather. The colleagues agreed to be on the look out for white-outs and any other traces of a prowler. This is the reason why Irina was on the road to Tharbad on that quiet morning. The plan was simple: if a drake shows up, she will melt in the woodlands and shadow the beast, if possible. 

There was, however, no snow squalls to be seen all around. Rather, a deafening silence. Irina could hear the snow flakes falling in the ground with an almost audible tinkling sound. Amid the creaking of her own footsteps, she first heard the sound of voices beyond the crest of the next hill. Irina scanned the surroundings and found a path through fallen trees and tall grass to scoot out of sight without leaving an obvious dotted trail of footsteps in the snow [She succeeded with a wide margin a hard Survival check].  She snuck under an evergreen where she could observe the road, unseen. 

Three northmen walked by her, discussing enthusiastically about the sheeps that they were to steal from the Shire's outlying herds. Irina knew that this chance encounter had to be dealt with. When the men noticed the footsteps on the road, they began to look for the trail that would take them to Irina. However, their tracking skills were no match against Irina's master work at sneaking out [their margin of success was less than Irina's, which was a bit lucky to begin with]. The oldest of the northmen explained to what looked like his sons that such a strange disappearance of footsteps could only be the work of the Shire's Bounders. All seemed to get nervous, searching around for the outline of a shadow menace, ready to duck oncoming arrows. After much discussions, they decided to leave the road and enter the woodlands. 

Irina decided to shadow the sheep rustlers. She could follow the men very closely without arousing suspicions [quick contest Per vs Stealth, which Irina won with a critical success!]. Irina followed them for an hour, waiting for an occasion to do something. Being a Hobbit, she had no intention to really hurt them. She considered harassing them with pot-shots with her bow until they turned around. In the end, she chose an unexpected solution. She figured out that, having cultural familiarity with "The North", and being herself a very charismatics person, she would attempt to befriend the men and divert them from their original goal. She began to sing a song that she knew was widely known among the northmen, and approached them from behind [singing check success with +3 margin] in the least threatening manner. The men were initially worried, but soon took down their guards when they saw a jolly middle-age hobbit female singing one of their favorite song [the reaction roll was done at +6, +2 for voice, +1 for fashion sense, +3 for the song... and got a Very Good reaction level]. Disarmed by a smile and a song!

Things could have gone bad, but they didn't. The northmen were unwilling to confront the jolly hobbit standing in their way, and lied about their motives by telling her that they were hunting. Irina, smilling at the inadequate "hunting" equipment of the sheep rustlers, offered to take them to a deer feeding ground and help them find meat. She knew of a spot [Area Knowledge success], and lead them to a place teeming with deers. On site, she found some the deers feeding trails [Naturalist check]. The northmen were not hunters by any stretch: they were loud, smelled too much and probably couldn't hit a deer with their spears. She instructed them to stay in place while she scouted ahead. 

Irina sneaked into position, but the deer bolted just before she could get a fully aimed shot [Per vs stealth failed by 1]. The shot was a 20 yd, with a Move 6 target. Irina managed a hit on the leg as the deer disappeared in the thick evergreen underbrush. The deer was weaker, but still fast. Irina patiently tracked the animal [Easy tracking check in the snow], moving silently until she found the wounded beast again. The deer was still, and she slipped quietly at 15 yd without being noticed. She took her time, aimed for the vitals and got a clean hit on the unsuspecting target. The deer fell to the ground [unconscious and stunned, not dead]. Irina, reluctantly, finished the beast with a swift slip of her hunting knife. 

The northmen were brought in, picked up the deer. The new friends walked back to the road. The northmen are unlikely to come back to steal sheeps now. It is more difficult after making a personal contact with a local. Beside, they know that they are no match to her hunting and shadowing skills. The older northmen offered her a beaded necklace as token of thanks. The harvest was not as big as planned, but should be as tasty. 

Irina headed for Sarnford, back to the shire. On the road, she could see a number of horse footsteps and a the tracks of a heavy cart. It looks like a group of human just snuck by while she was hunting. 

Other Notes: Before the encounter. We worked out why a hobbit would ever want to leave the Shire and travel with the Palantir Commission. We established that she nearly died of a fever in the spring. This near death experience triggered the Took's itch, a malady that flips the desire of hobbits to stay home on its head. She had a series of disagreements with her husband on the topic, and they decided to amicably go their own way. Irina is older (45), and there are lots of Bounders around to take over. She needs to see new places. 

Herb lore and GURPS' invention rules
We also gamed the preparation of two herbal brews from earlier on in the summer: Irina's brain explosion and Irina's Sniffle buster. The brain explosion gives the highest of 2 d6 FP for an hour, but cause a crash 1 hours later by the highest of three d6. She found out about the right plant: the root of a pond rush [herb lore], which she knew where to find [Area Knowledge], and harvest [naturalist]. She brew a few doses [herb lore, again]. Her attempt to dry the roots so that she could prepare the herbal mixture off season, however, failed [Hard check -4]. We use the invention rules for her to create the Sniffle buster tincture. She followed a similar process as for the brain explosion infusion, but then had to make a prototype and test it for a few weeks. She found a major bug (drowsiness), and a minor bug (tastes like dung, so she is adding honey...). She found only a small patch of source material, unfortunately, well outside the Shire.  When the first snow arrived, the live plant died and she ran out of fresh material. 


  1. Cool adventure. I am sure Finbert might be able to help find some of those ingredients in a pinch.

    I think we may have to devise a united battle tactic for us wee ones.

    1. The hobbits should be in high demand for tomorrow's session. Both of you cannot cause much damage. The key is to aim for the vitals to knock unconscious rather than to go for HP drain. Your poison is an equalizer, but both hobbits main weapon is stealth!