Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.4 - Fallen King

: Oxenaforda area, Danelaw's territory, Border with Wessex.
Time: February-March
Character Cast:


The founder of the Danelaw, Guthrum, is marching south to find less desolate lands into Wessex. His objective, Oxenaforda (Oxford) to winter in a position where he can negotiate the subservience of Aelfred the Great, King of Wessex. Brynjar is brokering the annexation of Oxford to the Danelaw in order to avoid a bloodshed, and secure arable land for his family.

Overtaken by politics, Brynjar promises to drain the swamp.


Off Coventry, late January
Eydis trotted towards the marching army of the Bretwalda. She soon was overtaken by Brynjar, who was unwilling to let her outshine him. A quick scan of the column revealed no signs of Guthrum. However, Brynjar ran into Aage, a powerful jarl and an uncle to him. The two men exchanged warm welcomes and settled for a meal. Aage managed to pull the entire story from Brynjar with clever lines of questionning. Brynjar's transgression in Beckley was to be forgiven. Aage suggested to hand over the saxon theign to Guthrum as a tribute.

While Brynjar was reminescing with Aage, Eydis left in search for her patron. She was followed by Aarne until they ran into the camp of the Bretwalda. At first ignored, Eydis managed to draw her patron's attention. Aarne, fearing the wrath of Eydis, started to make a fuss about a prophecy. It eventually drew Guthrum out of his tent and become attentive to his plight. By then, Aage and Brynjar had arrived with Econbert (the prisoner saxon theign). Aarne sold Guthrum to the idea that Brynjar was a broker of peace with Oxford.

By then, Osmond had maintained the attention of Aage's danes and had made plenty of friends. They rode alongside the head of the column for two days. Guthrum sent Brynjar and his retinue, accompanied by four of Aage's housecarls, to return to Oxford and extend Guthrum's terms.

Conquering England, one limerick at
 the time.
Eoffrey, earldorman of Oxford, received the news of Guthrum's arrival with resignation. He agreed to pay danegelt to the Bretwalda against the protection of his domain. Osmond had managed to suggest three areas to ransack for food. Eoffrey entrusted Brynjar to act as a liaision with the danes who were to winter in the villages of Colton and Beckley. Brynjar's danes decided to relocate to Foresthill and live under the local theign's roof for the next few weeks.

The Theign of Foresthill made room for them immediately. The danes suspected that something was amiss with this theign. However, a careful reading of the man by Osmond under the pretense of reading chicken entrails, yielded no usable information.

Wintering in the area
Guthrum arrived in Oxford and peace was agreed upon swiftly. Brynjar became the emissary for both sides as danes would not to enter the walled city of Oxford without permission. The food raids had been successful. A messenger was sent to Winchester to compel Aelfred the Great to negotiate subservience to the Bretwalda. Aelfred delayed for over a month before Guthrum lost faith in the process and decided to march south to Winchester.

Eoffrey of Oxford married Eydis after Guthrum ordered the widow to remarry. There was a feast, and the following day, the Dane army was marching into Wessex. Love is such as simple thing in yesteryears.

The two armies met along the highway and paused. A hill was selected for a day of negotiation. Slaves from both camps setup on the hill in preparation for the highest level meeting to take place in centuries. While the preparation were undergoing, Osmond lead Aarne to a patch of swamp grasses where they harvested a vile poisonous stem. Aarne brewed it into a sharp tasting concoction. He gave the poison to Osmond for later use.

The negotiation stalled and everyone became frustrated. By mid-day, it was clear that the resolution shall be made by cold steel. Each party left the hill behind. Osmond defected from the dane army to the Saxon's camp.

Osmond insisted in being baptized to anoint his sinful life of the past. Aelfred saw this as a good omen for the battle on the following day. During the evening, Osmond managed to drop the poison in the barrel of wine. The king, notorious for his frail health, became very ill. He withdrew to his tent and was out of commission for the coming few hours.

Battle of the round hill: Opening moves
The hill that was the site of a formal negotiation was repurposed as a battlefield on the following day. The danes had a slight advantage on the slope, but the real game changer was the turmoil on Wessex's lines about the ill King. Was God sending a message to the Saxons to surrender? The priests certainly didn't think so. However, it took a bit of time for the King to join the rank, and his frailty shone through his slightly oversized chainmail. Osmond grabbed a leather cap and a hatchet to blend in and shadowed the huscarls in hope to get a stab at the King.

For the next two hours, the shield walls moved back and forth as the number of fallen climbed in the hundreds. Aelfred's defensive stance wasn't good enough to blunt Guthrum's aggressive push. Brynjar had a brief stint in the wall no-man's land and gained valuable points. Aarne kept close from Aage and bolstered the morale with a few well placed, and oft witty rhymes.

At some point, on the other side of the line, Osmond slipped past the huscarls and made it in reach of King Aelfred. As he sized the chainmail and his dagger, he realized that a fatal stab would have to be neigh impossible to conceal. There was about 20 hulking giants around to grind him to a paste if he did, he had to make a split decision, and chose life. The swell and waves in the crowd drew him further as the housecarls shoved him aside.

Battle of the round hill: Guthrum going for broke
The shield wall back and forth turned into an organized retreat. Danes started to slip past the wall over the wings and pillage of the train began. Although this came at a cost for the danes, nearly 3 times as many Saxon were on the ground, pushed into an untenable position. The King's guard advised Aelfred to withdraw and let his captain to lead the retreat.

Osmond jumped to the opportunity and drew the King and 5 of his housecarls into a depression beyond the hill. The retreat was turning into a rout, the train was overrun and set afire. Brynjar and Aarne boldly made it through the collapsing shield wall and penetrated behind Saxon line. Brynjar lost control of his men as they joined the sacking of the train.

Aarne spotted Osmond's head peering out of a depression near a hedge. The dwarf drew the danes to him. He started to rave as if hundreds of danes were rushing onward to find the King. Keeping their heads down, the King and his guard came to the conclusion that surrender was the only option. When Brynjar and Aarne showed up, the King ordered his guards to surrender. Only a few minutes later it became clear that they had been played by the perfidious dwarf: no dane army was on the cusp of cutting him down to pieces.

Aelfred was tied to a pole and mocked by Guthrum and Aage all night. Five hundred men would keep crippling memories of the day, and 280 would be buried on the spot: danes and saxons side-by-side. Most of the Saxon nobles were killed if they couldn't be vouched to be ransomable. Brynjar was made a theign, but a few years later an Eardorman in Oxenaforda. He would reluctantly replace Eoffrey but let them stay with Eydis in the citadel. Aarne rejoined Ragnar and dedicated his life to advise Brynjar/Aage in matters of politics. Hallvard was granted the status of ceorl by Aage, and later on would be betraying the dane to obtain Earldorman's status in Mercia.

As for Osmond... well, history books will never connect the dots: the sickly king dropping the ball, the subterfuge, the untimely death of Alda in Beckley that opened the door to Brynjar and Hallvard to become nobles.  Who would suspect that cherub face for any of that? No one suspects the Cornish dwarf.

The last laugh, I had.

The end

Next stop: 2170AD, Asteroid belt, for a transhuman caper.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.3 - Iced-in

: Oxenaforda area, Danelaw's territory, Border with Wessex.
Time: January-Frebruary
Character Cast:


The Earldorman of Oxenaforda has invited Brynjar's danes to live under his roof in the citadel. Brynjar is itching to find a way to capitalize on this new trust from the Saxon noble. As winter is settling in, life takes a slow turn. The downtime highlights the perils of two marching armies set to clash over the city.

If another one gets diarrhea, I'm going to lose it.


Oxenaforda, First lights
After their arrival in Oxford, Brynjar's danes settled into the citadel and attempted to make a space of their own. Brynjar placed himself in the service of the Saxon Earldorman. Aarne befriended a pagan seer named Ragnar. An anti-christian resistance galvanizing around Ragnar. Hallvard spent time building a network of spies, with tentacles spanning the whole town. Brynjar and Aarne tried to engage the Earldorman into discussing a gift of land. This approach failed due to distractions as the birth of a the Earldorman's child was imminent. Hallvard queried his spies for potential farmstead sites where they could negotiate for. They were recommended to check a location near the hamlet of Foresthills.

Foresthill, 1 hour outside of Oxford
The bones are telling me pretty crazy 
stuff tonight.
Brynjar, Hallvard, Eydis and Aarne rode to Foresthill in search of a farmstead that burnt down and was never reclaimed. They passed by another stead that they assumed to belong to the theign of Foresthill. As they crossed the vale, Aarne noticed two men following them on foot. As the rest of the party explored the singed ruins, Aarne met for the stalkers.

The man was a theign, accompanied by a teenage boy. Aarne introduced themselves as the new owner of the stead, by proclamation of the Earldorman. The theign invited the danes to a meal at his home. There, they discovered that the Saxon knight was wealthy and successful. He had more tenant living in cottages than his estate really need, and had a stockpile of weapons to match. After a long conversation, Brynjar asserted that the theign has had some kind of side deal with Alda, the defunct dane leader (that they had killed a few weeks ago).

The theign was a widower just like the Earldorman. It appeared that consumption had claimed the lives of a lot of people during the past year. He attempted to court Eydis, and the other danes didn't interfere. Eydis made her usual display of contempt for the situation.

Birth of Maeve
The Earldorman had remarried very quickly after losing his wife and kids in the previous year. His new wife, Maerwynn, remained in labour for the best of the night. The household stayed up amidst the distant screams of childbirth. The full moon was driving Aarne nuts, and he has to retreat deep into an adjacent building to escape the screams and the blue light of lady moon. By early morning, a healthy baby girl was born. Eoffrey, Earldorman of Oxenaforda, paraded like a proud father.

It crossed the dane's mind that the mother, recovering in her bed at the moment, could believably die without anyone thinking about it twice. However, Aarne consulted the bones and the omen weren't good for such sinister endeavour. The Earldorman requested of Aarne an omen to mark Maeve's birth. Aarne read from the bones that Maeve's blood was brining together Saxons and Danes under Guthrum's banner. Hallvard tasked his network to spread the omen to the townsfolks. Soon, gifts from the more affluent town denizens started to arrive.

Oxford, one really bad day.
I've got a finger in every pie in Oxford
The freezing rain increased and Oxford slowly sank under the weight of blue sheer ice. The sky was purple, gray, and lifeless. The stone structure of the citadel creaked. The collapse of wooden constructions within the city walls was frequent. Townsfolk started to stream in the citadel in search of a dry patch to warm their bones. Soon, the citadel was overflowing and they began turning down people at the portcullis.

After the rain ended, a cold snap came down on the region. It turned 5-7cm of ice into steel-hard plates. The region was devastated. Overcrowding in the citadel and the remaining standing buildings soon devolved into dysentry (or something like that). Few were spared but the Earldorman.

Aarne, Brynjar and Hallvard set out to find medicinal material in the woods of Foresthill. Hallvard couldn't handle riding on sheer ice and returned to Oxford. Although the excursion was not successful due to all of that ice, they did assess the devastation and could report to the Earldorman.

When they arrived, the news of Maeve's death sank their hearts. The Earldorman had given to grief. Panic settled in the citadel and started to spread to the city.

General panic
A council of theigns was held to find a way to take control of the situation while the Earldorman was out of his mind. Beaduric was the natural next in command as Eoffrey's most trusted theign. Beaduric didn't, however, have that kind of people's skill and made the situation worst by adding his booming screams to these of the distressed population.

Aarne consulted the bones and the gods told him that Eydis was better off dying of fever than be healed. He instructed the maids to refrain from giving her water "as it made her fever worst".

Aarne took over and rallied the household with a poetic-sounding, omen emulating, string of soothing words. The gods clearly had rained on Oxford for its transgression over them, and Brynjar the wolf was here to make things right. Hallvard tasked his spies to rally folk to listen to Aarne in the town square. Aarne's broken Saxon words calmed their hearts and they regained composure. With the help of the Danes, Oxford would prevail under the banner of the Earldorman.

The next fives days were spend chipping ice, salvaging lumber to rebuild shelters, and making large pots of food. Eydis survived despite Aarne's attempt to let her die. All of the household busied to recover from the natural disaster. Brynjar enlisted the help of the Theign of Foreshill to have lumber cut from the woods to relieve Oxford.

Intrigue: Econbert, theign of Wessex
The news that a knight from King Aelfred's court arrived spread like wild fire in the citadel. King Aelfred was apparently raising an army to meet Guthrum and defend Oxford. The Earldorman tasked Brynjar to lead a mission to locate the advancing Danes and report back. Econbert insisted in being part of this mission as he didn't trust danes to negotiate with more danes. Fully award that the Earldorman wasn't keen on the Christian King to the south, they cooked a double-crossing plan to delay Wessex long enough to hand over Oxford to Guthrum, and keep the Earldorman in charge of the city. The only problem was to deal with Econbert. Their solution was to invite Osmond, the cornish dwarf assassin who had dispatched Alda so effectively a few weeks ago.

Brynjar tried to deal a land grant via his slave, Hallvard. The sharp tongue of the seer sealed the deal in the end. The ruins off Foresthill was theirs to occupy when the warm season would return.

On the third day of riding, they spotted a column of at least 1000 danes marching south toward Oxford. Upon that sight, Econbert bid his farewell to alert the Saxons and hurry the march of Aelfred's army. However, the others weren't inclined to let this news leak. Osmond got trampled trying to hold Econbert's horse and Aarne slammed the knight to the ground. The knight got incapacitated by a freak groin-first landing on a ice boulder. Out of breadth, and with a soprano-like quality to his voice, Econbert was now a prisoner.

The danes turned back toward the marching army. Eydis, ward of Guthrum, was the only one smiling. Out of these warrior probably stood the danes that they had betrayed to gain the favour of Oxford.

"Hold my beer, boys, I got this."

End state

  • Econbert is prisoner of Brynjar's danes. 
  • Guthrum's army is about 6 days away from Oxford.
  • Brynjar is a leading theign of Oxford. 
  • Oxford's people are favourable to a god-sanctionned new era of peace under the Danelaw.
  • Brynjar obtained land grant near Foresthill. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.2 - Ousted

Location: Oxenaforda area, Danelaw's territory, Border with Wessex.
Time: January
Character Cast:


New in town, Brynjar has usurped the leadership of a small group of dane invaders. They are seeking fertile lands for their family still cooped up on Eofforic (York), and are hoping to steal lush pastures from the Saxons. With Guthrum's army marching onwards, and the edge of Wessex pinned on Oxenaforda, Brynjar and his danes are in a frontier town where everything is possible (and messy).

Brynjar trying to play nice with angry danes.


Beckley, 3km off Oxenaforda, First lights
The Danes in the fort pulled themselves out of their drunken stupor only to learn that Alda, their leader, had died of his wound overnight. Osmond's murderous dagger had bled him dry through an existing wound without leaving a trace. The news swelled in the fort as if is was about to blow up. Eydis, the temperamental matriarch, prompted Aarne to get the horses ready for an escape. The pair could feel that the news of Alda's death wouldn't end well for them. Their leader, Brynjar, was convinced that he could assert his leadership over the unruly Danes. Aarne made up a prophecy, but the poem instead sent waves of confusion amongst the Danes. Brynjar, made lots of noise to appeal to their boisterous nature while Hallvard was trying to isolate the second in command (Bjorn) and secure support for Brynjar. Things devolved quickly: Alda's men would never rally under Brynjar. Everyone sensed that their welcome was expiring in the most violent way.

Brynjar asserted that he did kill Alda in a fair fight, and negotiated a way out of the fort for his retinue without much more than jeers as injury.

Beckley's town centre, early-morning
When the clan made its way out of the fort, they were met with a group of Saxon villagers converging from their dwellings. One of the Saxon was a blacksmith. He clearly didn't seem to be interested in talking to the Dane until Hallvard, in perfect Saxon, explained that Alda had been defeated by Brynjar. The reaction to the news was surprisingly positive. Hallvard got from him that the villagers were waiting on the sideline to take down the invaders. Seeing in Brynjar's retinue the enemy of enemies, a match made in hell was forged.

Aarne making prophecy up by bustin'
At that time, jeers from the top of the palisade mixed with the throw of a spear. The projectile bounced off the heavy sleeve of Hallvard's cloth armour. The Saxons and Brynjar's Danes dispersed. Hallvard and Osmond volunteered to be messenger to warn the Earldorman of the developing situation. They left for Oxenaforda within the hour and sped to walled city.

Still in Beckley, Brynjar leveraged his mounted status to command respect and leadership over the rabble. He directed the 80-strong group of men to encircle the fort to seal Alda's danes inside.

In side the walls of Oxenaforda
Hallvard and Osmond entered the city without being stopped at the gate. They galloped into a mire of mud and fecal matter up to the citadel. The guards are the porticullis interrogated the odd pair of a smartly dressed dane and a cornish dwarf. Soon, they were ushered into the citadel to meet with the Earldorman.

Hallvard explained the situation and impressed on the timeliness of the opportunity to re-take the fort in Beckley. Eoffrey, the Earldorman of Oxenaforda (Oxford), accepted the take Hallvard inside his household as a reward. The Earldorman rallied his theigns and set upon to march out of the city to Beckley within the hours.

While the meatheads were suiting up, Hallvard scoured the citadel in search of his sly counterpart in the Earldorman's household. However, the chaos engendered by the mobilization distracted his search such that he had to leave before he had found his target. Osmond also disappeared on a similar errand.

By early afternoon, a force of 62 spearmen, 9 theigns and the Earldorman marches out of Oxenaforda and up the highway leading to Beckley.

Beckley, late afternoon.
Hallvard, complex yet beautiful man.
The shouting match subsided between the Saxons and the Danes over the palisade. Women brought food and mugs of beer. Brynjar and Aarne made the rounds to make friends. There was much interest in Korda, Aarne's pet wolf. Brynjar and Aarne decided to leverage this into a brand building exercise by starting to refer to Brynjar as "the wolf". The Saxons were definitely trusting Brynjar and his danes. Eydis disappeared to socialize with whom she thought were the main players in Beckley. It became clear that the majority of the folks in Beckley were not christians. This was a welcomed surprise.

By late afternoon, kids ran into the village to announce the arrival of the Earldorman. The army relieved the villager and encircled the fort. Aarne, capitalizing on the fact that the Earldorman himself was pagan, improvised another false prophecy. The Eardorman received well the news that Brynjar the wolf was to introduce him to Guthrum, Bretwalda of the known world, and advancing with his army to subjugate the King of Wessex.

The Earldorman, aided by Hallvard as translator and accompanied by Brynjar and a few Saxon theigns, met with Bjorn (the new Dane leader) and 4 of his warriors. Brynjar was still determined to take over the place, but the Earldorman managed to negotiate the ceeding of the fort to the Saxons without bloodshed against a free passage out of Oxenaforda. The slaughter of the danegelt escort would be disregarded.

As the last of Bjorn's dane left the fort amidst the jeers of the Saxons, they entered the place to find it in a decent state. The coffer with the danegelt had been thinned out, but the strategic location was back in his hands. The fort was entrusted to a theign who was a relative to the deceased Theign of Beckley.

Eoffrey the Earldorman of Oxenaforda formally invited Brynjar's danes to be his guest. They left Beckley and arrived at the citadel in Oxford by torchlight.

End state

  • Brynjar has sided with a Saxon noble to evict Guthrum's dane. Can this be smoothed out?
  • Brynjar's dane have made allies of the people of Beckley.
  • Brynjar is now a guest/hot potato for the Earldorman, but at least is going to remain close.
  • Gurthrum's army is assumed to be marching onwards with an ETA of 30-90 days.
  • Hallvard has added the Earldorman as a patron.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.1 - Murdered

Location: Oxenaforda county, Danelaw's territory, Border with Wessex.
Time: January
Character Cast:

After the botched raid on Brixworth (Episode 1), Kollsvein brother became the clan leader on the run from the Jarl of Northumbria. He was joined by Kollsvein's widow, Eydis, and a pagan seer named Aarne. They rode to the south to steal farming lands from conquered Saxon territory in the hope that the drought had been less severe in the south. 

The travelers arrived in a small settlement in the vicinity of Oxenaforda. They were met by a small number of danes coming out of a pallisaded strong point of Saxon origin. The danes ushered the travelers inside swiftly and introduced themselves. Their leader, named Alda, was a friendly individual. He invited them to share a meal and an ale in the longhouse. 

Eydis tried to assert her authority over Brynjar but was put back on the sideline. While the men were engaged in a pointless discussion about headcount, she was approached by a dwarf, painted like a cornish man, who engaged her into small talks (Actually, a critical success on Fortune-Telling, so she pretty much told him everything that she knew). Meanwhile, Hallvard tried to engage with the #2 in Beckley, but only met resistance and a certain feeling of unease about the travelers' motives. 

By mid afternoon, some excitement took over the fort. Alda launched an elaborate con operation to make the fort appears to be staffed  by more warriors than it was. To buff her numbers, he invited the travelers to join in in the meeting of an advancing procession. Brynjar followed. The procession was a group of Saxon soldiers escorting a cart driven by a Christian priest. A Saxon huscarl followed from the edge of the village, then about 10 danes. As the saxons were arriving, Brynjar prompted Hallvard to get Alda to concede part of the danegelt loot. Alda, having to concede discretely, agreed to give them a cut. 

No one suspects the Cornish dwarf.
The Saxon were upset that the danes wouldn't be escorting the cart back to Oxenaforda. Everyone headed back into the longhouse to celebrate the danegelt payment. The danes got drunk pretty fast. A few hours later, more danes arrived with in their arms the chainmails of the Saxon soldiers. Much rejoicing was to be had as daylight faded to the red glow of the fire pit. As the evening devolved into a drunken debauchery, the travelers plotted to overthrow Alda and take over Beckley. 

On the sideline, Osmond figured out that his service may come handy. Aarne first pretended to read the bones and made up a prophecy about the change of leadership to a dane with blonde hair. Hallvard made sure that the prophecy stayed alive as the audience got floored drunk. Things came up to a head when Alda finally challenged Brynjar to a duel. Alda was very drunk, and managed to stay on his feet long past the combat was over. 

Alda was laid to rest on a litter with two deep cut to his chest. The audience was much too drunk to consider the implications of the change in leadership. This would have to wait for the morrow. As the fire died down, Osmond crept to the litter and dismissed the slave taking care of his wounds. Alda opened his eyes by a slit as Osmond sank a dagger in his heart.  

On the following day, the danes came to term with the unexpected turn of event. Brynjar realized that taking over wouldn't be without challenges. However, for the time being, Beckley was in their hands.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Bretwalda - The Abbey of Brixworth pt.2

The beleagued denizen of Brixworth have hunkered into the Abbey in preparation for an imminent raid on the village. Wyne of Brixworth is leading the efforts to navigate the Earldorman's estate out of its destruction via the payment of Danegelt. 

Location: Brixworth, Danelaw's territory, former Middle-Angle kingdom.
Time: Harvest time (around September)
Character Cast:

  • Wyne of Brixworth, convalescing one-armed thegn. (Dan)
  • Edlyn, Abbot of Brixworth. (NPC)
  • Holt, coerl and caretake of the estate. (Alex)
  • Ingram of Brixworth: Danish adoptive son of the Earldorman (Jason).

The villagers stood shaking in the hollowed nave of the Abbey. It felt like the howls of the Abbot's seizure could never die down and that God was on the brink of turn his back on his flock of sheep. Wyne was pacing along the walls as the others tried to assess whether they could muster 70 silver coins as payment. Most of the Earldorman's cash was gone in an attempt to purchase food for the village. Lady Ora offered a small chest of silver and bronze trinkets.  The Abbot added 15 coins, Holt surrendered in full his meager 5 coins. Wyne reluctantly shoved more silverware into the chest until they felt that the payment was complete. 

It was late. People were whispering in the warm darkness about the Abbot. Edlyn reassuringly congregated the denizens into the nave and addressed the situation. God was with them without a doubt. He pointed at the two danish horses and explained that they'd be used as bargaining chits along with the silver. God had given them the horses. He explained that God also had challenged him with these fits and that this was his cross to bear. The tension eased and the women and children returned to their makeshift beds. 

At first light, the watch woke the Theign. There was a plume of smoke to the North and to the south suggesting small campfires. Wyne, Ingram and Holt decided that it would be best to remove the grotesque body of the murdered dane that was hanging from a tree at the Southern edge of the village.  Ingram rode ahead of the others to discover that the body had been removed already. They could hear riders in the dry brush of the forest to the East and hustled back to the Abbey. 

When the danes arrived, torches in hands, they opened the chest some 3m from the Abbey's door. Holt stood towering over the loot. Wyne took a step forward as the danes were poking their head into his home some 200m down stream from them. Ingram held the horses to the back of the others. Only five danes trotted to meet the Angles. The Angles knew that they were short of cattles and a cart of food and hoped that the silver would suffice. 

Kollsvein was the danish leader. They stopped some 20m from the Abbey. Ingram began to explain the deal: the danegelt would be paid, but on the whole meatless. His danish was rusty and awkward. The danes were making fun of Wyne's missing arm and Holt standing like a peacock over a tiny box of trinkets. Ingram was just a kid, the situation degraded into bursts of laughters. Kollsvein called his men to plunder the helpless Angles. It was a mistake...

The Abbot, from the steeple, shot Kollsvein and hit his leg. The other danes charged with overconfidence. Holt's mowed down two of the charging horses with his great axe while Wyne lodged his spear into Kollsvein who fell off his mount. Ingram climbed on his horse after snapping out of a panic, disarmed one of the fallen rider and chased down another. As Holt was regaining his breath from having a hoof kick him in the junk (dice can be horrible sometimes), the danes were rallying to make an exit. Edlyn's arrow hit the leader once more. His lifeless body slipped off its slouch over his mount as the others escaped to the south. 

The tussle off the door of the Abbey. Note the upside-down horse bitching
about a broken leg. What a wuss!

Ingram lay on the ground with a spear still stuck in his chest. Hrothgar ran out of the Abbey to contain the bleeding and get the spear out. Ingram was cold and white and without the grace of God would have died on the spot. 

Both Ingram and Wyne suffered from mild infections and were convalescing when the Earldorman returned 5 days later. Life had returned to normality since the raid. However, the two mortally wounded danish horses were slaughtered and turned into number of feasts. More food was brought from the south by the Earldorman as well. 

No denizen of Brixworth had died, no property lost. Three danes had perished as well as two of their horses. The Angles had gained two horses as well, and one Danish prisoner who eventually would be ransomed to a relative for a few live sheeps. 

What could have gone wrong did not. Largely because the PCs looked so much like a joke that the Dane raiders didn't bother mount a proper attack on the Abbey.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Social Butterfly: random social networking for new characters

This post is a small chunk of a random generation set of tables that I made up for GURPS traveller. The whole minigame was pretty fun, but I'm mostly interested only on the social networking bit here. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bretwalda - The Abbey of Brixworth pt. 1

Location: Brixworth, Danelaw's territory, former Middle-Angle kingdom.
Time: Harvest time (around September)
Character Cast:

  • Wyne of Brixworth, convalescing one-armed thegn. (Dan)
  • Edlyn, Abbot of Brixworth. (Martin)
  • Holt, coerl and caretake of the estate. (NPC)
  • Ingram of Brixworth: Danish adoptive son of the Earldorman (Jason).


It had been a terrible harvest in the kingdom of the Middle-Angles. People were starving, although the whether was more to blame than the Danes.  The ground in Brixworth was bone dry, the crops had failed, the cattles had to be sacrificed, and so was about half of the sheep's herd. A Dane raid to the south had caused much damage. The Earldorman, answering to the call of  neighbor, had left to the south a few days ago with his fyrd made of most of his able-bodied men. Wyne of Brixworth, a thegn, had to stay behind to recover from the amputation of his left arm.

Abbey of Brixworth, 9th century.
Wyne was drinking watered down wine when a horse walked out of the forest up from the southern road. He reached for his spear and headed to meet the animal. The horse belonged to the Earldorman. The saddle had signs of damage made by a blade. Some dried blood was caked in the weave. He lead the horse to the Earldorman's homestead. Lady Ora confirmed that is was one of the Earldorman's horse, but not his personal mount. They headed to the Abbey with the kids and met with Abbot Edlyn for a conference.

Later into the morning, Wyne was walking to the southern edge of the estate when a number of Danes arrived into view. Hey mocked the one-armed Saxon in their own language. Wyne was livid. The Danes demanded a cart full of food, 70 silver coins, and all of the cattles and sheeps. Wyne lost his cool and tried to engage the leader. He only received mockery for it. They promised to come back on the following morning.

The trio, soon joined by Holt, a ceorl (freeman), discussed the possibility of a Dane raid. They settled on moving the valuable assets and the people to the Abbey. Ingram, the Danish adopted son of the Earldorman, came back from a long horse ride to the North. He probed the southern approach. Ingram intended to ride south to make contact with the Danish camp. However, he ran into a pair of sentries camping at the edge of the woods and decided to head back to the Abbey. A watch to the North confirmed that the Northern road was also covered by a pair of Danes.  The Saxon decided to mount an ambush on the sentries under the cover of night. They relaxed in the cool of the Abbey while the sweltering heat cursed the world outside.

The ambush went just ducky, giving everyone a
false sense of invincibility.
The Saxons waited for the night to mount an ambush against the sentries to the South.  Coerl Holt and Friar Hrothgar slipped through the dry underbrush and, taking advantage of a deep knowledge of the surrounding, made it meticulouslty to about 15 yards of the campfire without being detected. Wyne, Edlyn and Ingram made their way under the cover of darkness down the road. Since the Danes were huddled around a campfire, they too made it to the 15 yard line. The startled sound of an alarmed Dane triggered the assault. Edlyn' arrow hit one of the from a respectable 50 yards, followed by the spears from Wyne and Ingram. The second Dane was grievously wounded by Wyne's spear. Holt hacked the other Dane with his great axe. By the time that the last Dane was standing, he had received another injury from Hrothgar's spear and fell to the ground.

Edlyn attempted to perform an interrogation on the last one standing, but the Dane spat blood back at his face. Wyne, trying to rough him up, went into a blind rage and killed the Dane before he could spit more blood in his direction. So much for getting information from that one. That lest the other Dane with an arrow in his leg and a great axe gash in his back. Hrothgar stabilized the main wound and contained the bleeding. The Dane was, however, unconscious and on the cusp of death.

They recovered two Danish horses. Edlyn then propted the dead Dane to a tree and wrote on his shield using the Dane's own blood the word: "Cattl". He fell to a grand mal seizure before writing down the last letter. The Saxon contained him while he writhed, then took everyone back to the Abbey.

The new moon left Brixworth in a false semblance of peace. In the Abbey, Abbot Edlyn was recovering from his fit. People were talking: was it the Devil's work, divine retribution, or just the mark of a soul worned down by past atrocities? Edlyn and Ingram decided to scout to the south to locate the Dane's main camp. Holt, Hrothgar and Wyne headed North to scout the position of the sentries over there.

Ingram and Edlyn walked past the grim scarecrow and proceeded down the road until an advantageous bent. Edlyn plotted an ambush site while Ingram moved to contact further down the road. Ingram eventually ran into a group of three Danes having a meal by a bonfire. He couldn't see signs of others and concluded that the camp was much smaller than he expected. They both ended back at the Abbey for a meal and much needed sleep. Wyne and the others were already back and confirmed that two Danes were blocking the way Northward. The sentries detected them and they decided to recoil and regroup.

They were tired, hungry and stressed. However, the prospect of taking the fight to the surprised Dane was still on the table.