Vastlands ep.7 – The Vulgar Road

I had planned to try to “speed along” the players to get up to Drigbolton a little faster. But I am trying to keep things consistent – so I had the NPC loan the party her horses and carriage for a faster trip… Little did I know that Lady Luck had a peverse sense of humour!

Hunting – by Ruslan Skifonich

In Game

PCs present: Alette (Hunter), Estmund (Dolmenwood Knight), Prudence (Witch), Solvang (Magic-User).
NPCs: Fluff-Tail (Grimalkin), Fleet-hoof(Goat-kin)

We rejoined the party after a week of rest and recuperation in Castle Harrowmoor. The Lady gives them each a signet ring with the House crest, signifying that they will be welcome and can ask for assistance at any time they wish. Prue and Estmund are slowly learning about their obligations, while Solvang asks for advice from the Lady. She notes that the Ritual Spell Tome of Solvang once belonged to a Drune sorcerer, and is terrified at the implications of the Drune hunting this “Undying Tyrant”. She explains to the party that the Drune are a cult of dangerous magicians who leech magical power from any they can trap. She requests that the party go and investigate immediately, and loans them her carriage and coachman to make the journey faster.

As they travel along Fort road, the coachman nervously eyes the looming forest all around “The Nag-Wood grows every year it seems”. The evil presence at the heart of Dolmenwood seems to be reaching further all the time.

When the reach the bridge over the River Shub, the carriage is forced to stop by the remains of a slaughter. A ruined caravan of traders and travelers is strewn across the bridge and surrounding ground, staining the mud and river red. Estmund hops out to try and clear away some broken wagons but is horrified when the broken bodies begin to struggle upright. Cut off from the others, Estmund yells for assistance. Solvang throws the shield (which lands very badly) while Prue and Fluff-tail light some torches to try and scare away these walking dead. Alette grabs some rope, while Fleet-hoof backs away at the horror of it all. Estmund dashes into the mob to grab his shield while Alette tries to draw their attention – sadly the dead are single minded in their pursuit and they both start to get overwhelmed. Prue and Fluff-tail try beating some of the dead, but this only results in some burning dead spreading fire.

Solvang gives up on Fleet-hoof (who cowers in the carriage). At this stage both magicians gave up on subtlety and just threw raw magic into the mob of undead. Lashes of burning power knock the undead in all direction, and sadly Alette was caught in some of the backlash, only narrowly avoiding decapitation! The party push aside a few carts and clamber onto the carriage as it crosses the bridge. Estmund asks about burying the bodies, but a quick look back to see the undead slowly clambering back to their feet convinces all of them it is time to ride on.

They arrive shaken at Fort Vulgar, and the town of Brandonsford huddling beneath it. Alette went to look for some accommodation, finding the Clumsy Fox the cleaner alternative. Meanwhile Estmund, Prue, and Fluff-tail went looking for a priest. With the help of the grimalkin’s fairy charm they “sold” the relic teeth to the priest, but Estmund felt apologetic at the deceit (and worried about undead) and so purchased 2 vials of holy water. Solvang found the local brothers of St Signis the silent (Lichwardens) and talked with them about the undead attack. He learned about the practice of special rites to make the dead immune to magics, as well as a list of various saints who would intercede against the dead.

They notified the local sheriff about the loss of the merchant caravan, before retiring to the Clumsy Fox to recover before attempting the trip through the Nag-Wood. The poor coachman was bemoaning the need to go back to Harrowmoor castle.

At the Table

Got to admit, this session was the least satisfactory one i’ve run.

I had expected that the players would fast-forward to Ft Vulgar, do a little trek and arrive at Drigbolton. Then the RNG gave me an encounter.. with 4d6 zombies... I was very intimidated by the thought of running a combat of 20 vs 7. I vaguely remembered that Godbound had some rules about “mobs” and combat, so I quickly glanced at the pages in the minute while the players were discussing tactics… I failed to comprehend the a4 page of dense text so quickly, so tried clumping the zombies in groups of 5 and allowing a 2hp strike to “incapacitate”. Sure it was a lot less deadly, but I justified it as they are already hacked up and only barely moving.

The players said they enjoyed it, and the outcome felt interesting (as well as the fight) giving various players a chance to shine, and getting the players to look into ways of making a stronger team (by getting some anti-undead or anti-mob abilities). But I really didn’t enjoy running this encounter. It was too chaotic on my end.

Now that i’ve had a chance to properly read the mob rules in Godbound they make a lot more sense and I will definitely be using them for future “large scale combat” In my defense I got the base idea right, I just flubbed the details.

Next time: the trip through the Nag-Wood

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