Trials of Everrun – Trials and Errors

Thursday night was a pretty slow night in the Trials of Everrun session.  As my previous posts mentioned, I have been ill so I did not put the requisite planning into the game.  I did not have props for my letters or really have much of anything fully “written” in terms of scripts and stats.  Complicating this further, there was a bad accident on the road outside the game shop that made just about everyone late – and Drip Dry did not arrive until nearly 7:30 – an hour late (and an hour and a half after he usually arrives).

Despite this, the players seemed to have a decent time entertaining themselves, so I’m classifying it under the accidental folder of the “win” category.

The session before last, Jerrede, Roxas and Bran fell into a pretty nasty pit trap with the three dwarven girls they rescued some time back.  They all failed their acrobatics checks by a wide margin except Roxas (Drip Dry had to miss the session, so I was controlling his character) who failed by only one point.  The end result was Jerrede and Bran landing on the spikes in the bottom of the pit and taking a considerable amount of damage – and Roxas landing hard on his head beside them.  Roxas was concussed (earning him a -2 modifier until he can get good medical attention and a good night’s rest) and the others are covered in open wounds from the ice.  These wounds will play a role later.

Still recovering from that damaging moment – and the humiliation of watching Kaderin slaughter the Ia (Ice Goblins) and Eira (Ice Trolls) that managed to lure them into the trap in the first place – they hastened to enter the Dwarven city of Korrigan through the side – or Tarian – gate.  That resulted in them triggering a self-resetting trap that spilled them into (you guessed it!) another pit.  This one was filled with sewage – because the Ia and Eira that have taken up residence in the Dwarven city are not known for their good housekeeping skills.  After a brief encounter where Jerrede magic’d his way out of the poo and ran off the Molek (a mole-like slave race of the Eira) guards, they were captured by the Dwarven inhabitants of the city and taken – by way of a full-service bath house – to stand before the Kings Behind The Gate.

System: Snow and Ice

They’re underground at this point, in an extinct volcano that has since been filled with a glacier.  Everywhere they go it is cold – bone-chillingly cold.  So I am using the following system to make them suffer account for the cold:

Cold_Chart

E-gads, that’s small.  Click to enlarge.

In this case, the Difficulty is modified by the duration they’ve been exposed to the cold – increasing by 5 for each full hour they’ve been exposed to the cold.

That is where the last session ended; Roxas being arrested in the cart outside the city and escorted in to a holding cell inside the palace of Korrigan.  Meanwhile, the party was captured behind a rock slide and likewise arrested escorted before the King to answer for their perceived attack on the front gate.  They found the King in the great throneroom of Korrigan, just as Bran remembered it from the last time he was here.  Except now all of the doors are guarded by Ogres and Ice Giants – and an Ice Giant sits on a large throne on the dias beside the King.  When Bran questioned the King on the changes, he explained that the Ice Giants had attacked the gate at Korrigan shortly after the Purge began – when all non-human races were being expelled from Everrun.  Rather than risk destruction, a small group of guardsmen struck a bargain with the Ice Giants to help them overthrow (and kill) the previous King and placed two new rulers over Korrigan – a Dwarven and an Ice Giant king.  When the party arrived, the Ice Giant was fairly silent, letting the dwarven King do all the talking.

Bran rolled a fairly high Intimidation roll, resulting in him informing the king that he had returned from his banishment at the behest of Korrigan itself – summoned there by the Changes that have been made since he has been gone and implying that he was there to liberate it from the current leadership.

Aside:  Third Grows, Banishment and Changes

Bran is a Third Grow – basically a dwarf that grows a “third” time after the growth spurt that brings their beard.  In Everrun, Third Grows are basically dwarven berserkers and are very highly sought after in the armies of men.  However, their larger size and violent temperament makes them ill suited to life in the cramped quarters below ground.  Because of this, when these rare Third Grows are revealed, they are traded off to the Kingdom of Man to serve in the army.  It’s an old arrangement – the King Behind The Gate keeps his sovereignty despite his kingdom being directly beneath the Kingdom of Everrun and the King of Everrun gets berserkers or (even more rarely) Magi for his army.

Third Grows are not generally permitted to return home.  They’re too big to fit in most of the passages the dwarves use and they tend to be either berserkers or magi – neither of which are good omens in cramped spaces.  However, in times of great peril the King  can summon the Third Grows home.  What became a key plot point is the dwarven word “Korrigan” –  a word that is used interchangeably for the “King”, the “Land” and the “Kingdom” – and so there is some ambiguity as to which summons the Third Grows home.  Considering the Third Grows have not been summoned within the lifetimes of any living dwarves, Bran’s assertion that the Land of Korrigan summoned him home to address the King’s Changes – namely inviting the Dwarves’ ancient enemy the Eira and Ia to live behind the Gate, and co-ruling beside an Iena (Ice Giant) – is not entirely without some merit, but it is going to be interesting from an RP perspective to see how it all plays out.

As they were escorted through the proud dwarven city, the party found that the great halls are literally infested with Ia and Molek, living in hovels and crumbling shanties crudely constructed in the halls of Korrigan.  There’s sewage just about everywhere – and everything is falling apart.  This struck Bran pretty hard too.

This session began with the King enraged by Bran’s implied threat.  He was especially aggressive toward Bran, but the elf (Jerrede) was the victim of some contempt as well.  He threw down his scepter and instructed the Third Grow and his entourage to have a seat so the proceeding could continue.  The Ice Giant tried to calm him, but the Dwarf smacked his hand away and cursed in his face.  At which point he called out the Molek that had been guarding the Tarian gate and ordered them executed for abandoning their post almost literally in the same breath.  There was no trial and they were not permitted to speak on their own behalf.  The party protested on behalf of the smallest of the Molek – whom they nicknamed “Short Stack” – telling the King that he, unlike the others, had stood his ground against them.  So Short Stack was made commander of the Tarian Gate Guards and sent back to work, while the others were nailed heads-down to stone slabs and disemboweled.  Cheery times, non?

Aside: What’s really going on here?

Why the wanton slaughter of the Molek?  And why was the King so aggressive?

I think it is important to consider how a NPC or Townsperson will react to being intimidated, rather than assuming that a successful intimidate immediately results in the party getting their way.  Imagine a King – especially one who’s hold over his people is shaky at best – being threatened by an outsider.  Yes, he is going to be scared – but with the eyes of the Ice Giants on him, he cannot very well cower in his throne and give in to the Third Grow’s demands.  So he becomes angry to hide his fear.  Classic short-man syndrome.  Plus, by killing off a group of Molek he can gain loyalty from the Dwarves still remaining in Korrigan by demonstrating to them that while he tolerates the Molek and Eira in their home out of survival necessity, he will treat them harshly if they step out of line or (in this case) fail in their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, after they’ve left he dispatches his personal servant (as we’ll see later) to deliver a special letter to them, begging for help.

So after another brief and angry exchange with the party about the Third Grow dwarf girls the party have tagging along with them – dwarf girls who had tried to attack the front gate when Roxas didn’t return right away – the girls were sent off to be “processed as any other Third Grow” and the party was sent to the guest rooms.  In a great Role Playing moment, the party was arguing among themselves while I was describing the “guest rooms” that they were being escorted into and not paying much attention to me – that is until the gates slammed shut on their cells, leaving them alone in the cold stone dungeon.

My plan originally had been to end the game session here for the night.  However, it was only about 9:30 when the cell doors closed, and we generally play until 10:30.  So we forged ahead!

And so things began to get a bit out of control.  Realizing he was trapped, Jerrede cast a spell that turned him into a ghostly form.  It slowed his move rate but allows him to pass through walls – and he appears as a ghost to anyone seeing him.  The guards, of course, saw him and failed their Charisma + Mettle checks, sending them screaming from the room to fetch reinforcements.  Unfortunately, Bran also saw Jerrede and also failed his Charisma + Mettle roll (I cannot emphasize enough how important Charisma + Mettle is in D6!) causing him to berserk.  In his fit, he damaged the lock on his cell, making it impossible to open it with the key.  Meanwhile, Jerrede found the guards had been attacked by a young dwarf girl bearing a note – which she left behind before she ran off.

So as Bran berserked against the bars, he BOTCHED a Physique + Lifting roll, causing a complication.  The complication was the destruction of the lock in such a way that it could not be unlocked from the outside.  Meanwhile, Jerrede looted the key from the fallen guards and returned to a corporeal state long enough to let everyone out except Bran who – with some goading from the rest of the party – eventually managed to smash his cell door before returning to a calmer (and smaller) state.

Aside: An astute player may notice that Bran has berserked 3 times since entering the lands of Korrigan – once in the ice pit outside the city gates, and a total of twice while escaping his cell here.  Additionally, the three dwarven girls were quite meek and submissive prior to entering Dwarven lands, and now they’ve been arrested and held for attacking a scouting party and assaulting the gates of Korrigan themselves.  Quite successfully if the gear and gore they acquired in the process is any indication.  Said astute player might ask, “What’s going in in this mountain?”

After healing up Roxas as well as could be expected given a lack of any sort of medical supplies in their cells and returning everyone to a solid state, the party headed out to fetch their equipment.  As the note left by the dwarf girl promised, their gear was found near the Ice Gate beside two more unconscious guards.  After some debate and a few missteps both Roxas and Bran stepped forward to open the gate by reciting the appropriate incantation:

I am an Arbitor, bringing Light to this Dark Place.

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