First, a couple of pictures from last night’s session . You will notice 2 of the 3 pictures are critical failures. It was the theme of the evening.
- Ari Runemasters, Dwarf, Cautious, Enemy, Loyal
- Coldheart, Frostborn, Habit (keeps secrets), Loyal, Outsider, Vow (is Cold the 5th element)
- Cynric Odwinsunu, Saxa, Curious, Loyal, Vengeful
- Foxglove, Engro, Curious, Greedy, Orders, Outsider, Quick (smokes after a fight)
- O’hAadha “the Wild” of Clan Tolarggan, Tuomi, Hearth Knight, Heroic, Orders, Stubborn, Vengeful
- Tara Saari, Finnar, Code of Honor, Mark of the Fey, Vow (defeat Black Knight)
- A link to the PreGens
We had 3 players. G$ ran O’hAahda and Coldheart. Jo ran Foxglove and Tara. Mark D ran Ari and Cynric. Only Mark D had any familiarity with the setting. All are Savage Worlds veterans.
“So why are we out here again?” queried Foxglove.
“To to help the Hearth Knights protect the builder of their new outpost – Boarderwatch” sighed O’hAadha. He was questioning this himself. All he wanted to was kill Frostweavers to avenge the death of his wife. The Hearth Knights sold him on this idea, but they really were not clear on you had to be Shield first. So when a captain at Keep offered him the opportunity to round up a some folks to help defend the new outpost he jumped at it. But so far there has only been a stray goblin or two to slate his anger upon.
“My troop, The Travelling Wilburys, roams Heligoland these days. I hope to run into them while we are here” piped in Foxglove. (1)
O’hAahda was about to grunt when the group heard fighting up ahead. They arrayed themselves and Foxglove creeped up to the flank and saw a colorful wagon overturned and a swarm of bluish Ice Goblins cutting up on the horses, people and looting the wagon. It took a moment, but Foxglove realized it was a small group of Wilburys that travel around to entertain towns and settlements!
Coldheart called upon her inner Hrimwisardry to encase herself in flexible ice (Armor). The group arrayed itself a the crest of the hill and counterattacked (the picture of the battle scene in the above link). Foxglove raced forward throwing her trusty knife…but the Norns are fickle! (see the first picture with a crit fail)(2). She tripped while throwing, hit the Wilbury the Goblin was chewing upon, and tumbled down the hit to land sprawled at the goblin’s feet.
Tara then charged down the hill but came up oh so short (same play rolls a one on the running die and only needed a 2 – so she has now rolled three 1s in a row).
Coldtheart calls again upon her inner powers to turn her axe into a horrific weapon (Smite) – but the sun strikes her eyes and the pierce of that bit of heat melts her cold soul (the second crit fail pic – so Shaken and Fatigue).
The remainder of the group gets down the hill. A Goblin or two go down. Only two where paying enough attention to even respond to the initial charge. The fight quickly turns bloody for the Ice Goblins.
Foxglove mourns a bit by making sure the property of these poor Engro will be returned to the family and he lights of a post fight cigar. Tara calms the one living horse while Ari uses it blood to mark the Rune of Healing. They are able to get the wagon moving.
The goblins have the markings of the One-Tusk tribe. Knowing the history of the lands, they burn the goblins bodies and put the slain engro into the wagon to continue onto the keep. They also had noticed 3 recent graves at the top of the hill. While a few crude markings of Scaetha were present, clearly it was not consecrated ground. (3)
The made it to a wooden fort after nightfall (4) and have not problems with entry since there is a Hearth Knight amongst the group. They are directed to the Common Room to talk to Sgt “Brick” Housesunu (5). He had heard of O’hAahda’s temper and disrespect of authority and has some fun with that (Brick has a strong streak of that himself). The group tells of their tale and find out that the outpost does have a goblin captive if they want to squeeze more information out of him. Brick quietly comments on the Frostborn in the group given the nickname of the outpost is “Baronwatch”. O’hAahda hints that one should “keep friends close and enemies closer.”
The common room keeps an eye on Foxglove and avoids Coldheart. Tara sit back and thinks upon her travel when she squired for a Fey Knight. The others in the common room both stare at her and avoid her due to her Fey Mark(6). The group also learns that this place is called Fort Toothpick because as one soldier put it – “If a giant wonders down he will smash this place into toothpicks.” This wood fort is merely a temporary outpost to protect the stone fortification going up.
After some back and forth, Brick goads O’hAadha into Boasting how many Goblins he will kill (from the Expansion book). The group sets out the next morning after getting information from the captive goblin. After a few hours, they find the smell hole from which the One Tusk tribe seems to emanate. Foxglove was able to sneak into the hole and easily notices the crude pit trap that his large companions likely would have missed. His keen hearing detects 4 or 5 distinctive goblin voices ahead squabbling over something.
The group decides to draw them out since the only light is a the sunlight streaming into the small goblin hole. They set up a ruse of a couple of travelers that have stopped to have a lunch. They argue and do such a good job (both the player roleplaying against themselves and dice rolls) that the goblins are completely fooled. They attempt to sneak out but are instead ambushed buy the group.
The only notable item is another crit fail. Tara rushes one of the goblins that is also struck from behind by Cynric. Cynric’s sword easily slices through the base of the goblins skull and thrusts out of its mouth. That throws Tara off and she nearly runs into the sword (Cynric hits with multiple raises and Tara crit/failed – but the damage results in only Shaken to Tara).
The groups begins to work their way through the goblin warren (after Foxglove swipes the pathetic stakes of the Goblin’s game of bones). The caves feel colder than a normal cave. Eventually they come upon a Common Room (7). The room is really cold and there are goblin-sized holes everywhere (8). In the middle of the room the Goblins have a weird pot that has a glowing blue fire in it. Foxglove sneaks into the room (a killer Stealth roll – so I said put your PC where ever you want and presume a crate or something for cover). He initiates the attack by trying to kill one near the Hellfrost fire and get back into hiding (I ruled opposed Notice vs. Stealth -4). No problem killing the Goblin, but yet another crit fail on the Stealth! Trip and fall forward into the pot of Hellfrost fire! (Shakes).
The battle quickly ensues and the gang rips them up pretty quick! Unfortunately, I made the big deal about the room being cold and icy but forgot to impose movement penalties. Well, at least the flavor got out there.
The final location they find before exiting the caves was a nasty little alcove dedicated to Dargar. O’hAahda had encountered these before and relayed that all the heads and chopped off ears and such were tributes Dargar. Also, it was lucky no one was at the shrine because his followers would likely fight in a frenzy near such a foul place.
The amount of detail on the world that has slipped into my thoughts and this adventure pleases me. I want to have one fantasy setting that is what I call a “setting of detail” – things where stuff like why people pay attention to burial rites has meaning, or what a colder than normal cave might mean the next time they stumble across one. Hellfrost has become that. It does not mean I will not run other fantasy or other genres, but Hellfrost is the one where the little details are woven into the adventure even if they are not a key clue to the current mystery.
We ran short on time so I did have them roll a few more of “what rooms you might have found if we had more time”. The players seemed to really take to the different approach. It also helped that the Mark1 and Jo’s son played Skyrim, so I could at least say “the area you have been travelling in looks like that” :) .
The framework for the adventure is just good old B2 – Keep on the Borderlands. I just took the little nugget that the Hearth Knights were looking to build another tower near the border with the Barony of Cul.
(1) Some might whine that such a name kills versimitDMitude and all, but the name seems to have an Engro ring to it. It conveys the right tone of the group, and it gives the players something familiar to grab onto given the amount of new Hellfrost detail I threw at them. Later in the session one would still here reference to Travelling Wilburys and not “that group of short gypsis, what were they called again?”
(2) Our house rule is you have to suffer through the crit fail, but you get a bennie for your pain. The only exception to this is stuff like Incapacitation rolls and you can spend a Bennie to roll only to avoid Siphoning.
(3) Ah, the Kings Road map from Keep on the Shadowfell. Those graves helped reinforce some of the world detail about how burial rites had changed due to the Liche-Priest
(4) If you are a Flip Mat fan – Bandit Outpost
(5) Sadly, the players missed the Brick House reference :)
(6) I added this one to the pregens. Here is the backstory:
Tara had the unusual situation of being forced to Squire for a
Fey Knight (see Hellfrost Beastiary). During that time, she
learned the in and outs of the being a Knight and much about
the Fey World.
She served the White Knight for what turned out to be two
years (although she did not age, the world did) whose sole
purposed seemed to be to seek out and battle the Black
Knight across the lands of Rassilon.
There were numerous confrontations and formal duals. During
that time, Tara met the Black Knight’s squire – a similarly
endentured human named Tomas. The pair became quite fond
of each other and they secretly met when time allowed when
the envitable match between the Masters came due.
But that all came crashing to an end. In the past, the Black
and White Knights battled in more formal styles that rarely
ever leads to death. But their last encounter occured as
opponents in a real battle. The two Knights paired up to defeat
a Hellfrost Dragon. But the Black Knight, at least in Tara’s
eyes, manuevered to avoid much of the combat and to get the
killing blow on the dragon. This left the Dragon dead, the Black
Knight victorious, and the White Knight slain.
The death of the White Knight did free Tara from her enforce
servitude. Oddly, the White Knight’s equipment and mount did
not fade back to the Fey Realm but instead became more
substantial, more of this world. Both have a slight Fey look, but
pass as normal in Rassilon if not inspected closely.
Tara too has a mark from the experience – she has a small
mark upon her cheek of Fey origin and design. For some, this
makes her more exotic. For others, it makes them more fearful
of her. She also seems to have a deep bond with the steed -
they fight as one like no other based on her actual fighting
Tara has vowed to find the Black Knight and slain him both to
avenge her Master and free Tomas.
(7) I used this session to try out an alternate approach to exploration. Instead of following a fixed map, I had someone roll Notice or Stealth. Others could assist. Then I used the Chase Rules where each Success and Raise got you a Card (minimum 1 card no matter what). The higher the card, the more interesting area the PCs would find. If you draw a Club, there would be a complication (a patrol stumbles in, a trap, etc). If you had people assist in the role, then more suite would factor into if there was a complication. The goal is to reward the hit skilled PCs during the exploration, but avoid the drudgery of “I search each 5′ square for traps”).
(8) I find it odd that Dwarves have temperature adjustments and goblins have the snow walking but they live in caves – deep caves are cool but not freezing. So I decided that if there is a Shaman around, that the caves grow colder over time and ice/snow patches form. So goblin shamans of Thrym are natural channels for the Hellfrost to seep through.