Tonight’s Dungeons & Dragons session saw the characters leaving Wolfsangel for Lenta, the home of the Lentienses, the tribe of Celts (elves) that the 12 the party rescued from the Quadi (hobgoblins) after the festivals of Saturnalia. The group travelled south along the Neckar toward the Danube, following the old Limes Germanicus from over 100 years ago. The feeling of decay was exemplified by the sections of still standing wall, the empty or half standing guard towers, and the snow-covered, but solid Roman road still taking them south. Marcellus is particularly touched by the fact this barbarian land was once part of the empire.

A few times, they thought they glimpsed people tacking with them, but never got a good look. After stops in little towns graced with thermal springs (hot baths!), they moved into the hills and the Black Forest. Only a half hour or so out of Bad Neckar, as the sun was setting, they went to cross an old Roman bridge over the river, only to be jumped by a massive humanoid creature! Twelve feet tall, mottled, greenish skin, wearing clothes of bear pelts sewed together and a necklace of human ears, and wielding a small tree trunk club, the troll bashed Carrus the Dwarf right off of his pony, killing the animal, and nearly nearly killing their other tracker with one swing.

This encounter was designed by my six year old daughter after leafing through the Monster Manual with me. The previous week, she had gotten to roll for the bad guys, and had knocked the party around pretty handily.  She chose the creature, but only after a long argument about the nature of trolls, which a certain movie convinced her were herbivorous, friendly, and musically inclined. I had to explain the real legend to her.  Trolls it was.

The fight involved 12 elven archers, the characters, and a single troll. I played the rules to the hilt, and several characters got knocked about pretty handily, but finally they started to make a dent in the monster. Finally, Carrus used his menacing attack badly injuring the creature and frightening it enough that it slipped and fell off of the bridge while retreating. They saw it last floating downstream vowing revenge.

After a stop in Bad Neckar to heal and avail themselves of the hot springs, they pressed south toward Heilbrunna, a new Alemanni town of 5000 or so, led by a Marco the Hammer. They were jumped an hour outside by more Quadi, but this time led by a pair of giant versions of the creatures (bugbears) — this is a Quadi bloohound squad and they had been hunting the party for days.

The fight was short, only 5 rounds, but saw Legate Marcellus and Calvinus the Bard hit first, then the creatures concentrated their efforts on the monk and cleric. It didn’t help them. Calvinus’ shatter spell destroyed two of the Quadi soldiers, Carrus took out another, and the NPCs dealt a death volley to one of the bugbears. Augustinius took an arrow through his leg, but afterward was able to use bless to boost the other characters. Carona the satyress took out one with a surprise attack ram maneuver killing him instantly. Eventually, the bard drove the other bugbear off, giving Marcellus time to collect himself, give chase and kill it with a single blow.

With one hostage, they were able to learn that the Quadi use the larger, meaner versions of themselves as hunters, and that they have been tracking them. They learned about the characters, and which were magic users, from the people of Wolfsangel — which the Quadi destroyed after they raided the place and heard about the fight with their platoon of men a week ago. The town was raided, people taken as slaves, and the place raised, then bloodhound were sent looking for them.

We ended the night with the reaching Heilbrunna, where they were received with enthusiasm after Marco the Hammer recognized Carrus the Goblin Killer from stories about him. He’s even heard of his father, the master blacksmith! They were treated to baths, new clothes and a fine meal when we knocked off for the night.

I previously posted on the SIG_Sauer P320, the handgun platform that the new M17 Modular Handgun System is based on, but with the official acceptance of the M17 by all of the US services as the replacement to the M9, I figured I’d give it another showing…

The new M17 MHS is based on the P320 family of handgun and features interchangeable grip modules and panels, has suppressor support with a threaded barrel, interchangeable slide lengths, and an integral optics mounting plate and a rail system. Instead of the double/single action hammer-fired mechanism of the M9 pistol, the M17 uses a much simpler striker-fired design pioneered by the Glock.

SIG-Sauer-P320-660x561.jpg

M17 Modular Handgun System 9mm — PM: +1   S/R: 3   AMMO: 17   DC: F   CLOS: 0-6   LONG: 12-18   CON: +1   JAM: 98+   DRAW: 0   RL: 1   COST: $700

The D&D gang started a fight with a bunch of Quadi (hobgoblins) — a tribe of folks moving into Germania Magna, and who had followed a band of Celts (elves) they had jumped and killed half their numbers to the shore of the Moenus River at Wolfsangel, where the characters had been staying for a few weeks after their run-in with the Dark Man creature.

After finding the warband of 30 or so, Marcellus had noted their discipline and skill at setting camp, but had underestimated their skill and professionalism. Their leader was highly confident, politick, but firm that they had the right to be in the forests near Wolfangel. After setting off a conflict with the Quadi, the characters and their 30 or so supporters (towns guard and a dozen of the Celts), the fight quickly went badly for the players. The Quadi was professional (I’m using the 5th ed version of the creatures, who are a martial race) and using their martial advantage and their heavy armor allowed them to quickly cut through the NPC support, and injure the monk, Icio — probably the group’s heaviest hitter.

We ended last night with the fight going downhill fast, but tonight the gang turned it around with judicious use of spells from the bard and cleric — the combination of bless and fairie fire really tipped the balance in their favor — and a rally by the monk and Carrus the dwarf allowed them to cut through their foes. The fight was only two miuntes, but took the whole session tonight to complete.

Afterward, the characters pressed the Celts on what happened. They claim to have been a hunting party (about a Roman century strong?) and found the Quadi camped near Locoritum, where they had either set up or were in the process, a siege of the Roman-friendly Vangiones there. The Celts were returning to Lenta and their king to tell him about the situation…the characters were leaning toward joining them and pressing south to Lenta instead of risking crossing a siege at Locoritum. They are hoping to win the troublesome King Priarius of the Lentienses over and craft a treaty with Rome.

I still am not a fan of d20, even the 5th ed. version, and the nostalgia factor is starting to wear off for the mechanics. The world and story are holding us all; I just find D&D a bit too wargamey and fiddly. I also need to start punching up the big bads and the main plotline.

Here’s a little something from the way-back machine for those of you who set your campaign in the classic era of the early Cold War. The Maserati A6 was a fantastic example of Italian grand touring cars from the 1950s, and was a popular platform for taking a car and having custom coachwork made for it. The most popular variant for this was the A6G two-seater coupe, which had bodies from Zagato, Pininfarina, Pietro Frua, and Ghia, to name a few.

Made from 1949 to 1956, it featured a 1.5 liter, and later a 2 liter inline-six cylinder motor that turned out between 80 and 100hp, depending on the model year. The 2L version was used in the A6GCS and produced 170hp that, through a 4-speed manual transmission, had a top speed of about 130mph.1024px-Maserati_A6G_2000_Zagato_white_vl_TCE.jpg1953 Maserati A6GCS

The car above is a prime example of a Zagato-bodied A6GCS with the larger motor.

PM: +1   RED: 5   CRUS: 60   MAX: 130   RNG: 200   FCE: 2   STR: 5   COST: (new) $2,050; (in 2017) ~$2.3 million

 

The Dungeons & Dragons campaign picked back up with the characters being stuckin Wolfangel for three weeks due to inclement winter weather — bitter cold and heavy snow. The characters have been given the decamped blacksmith’s home to reside in as thanks for their efforts in destroying the Dark Man. During the stay, Carrus the Dwarf made money doing smithing, like his father…he’s both pleased and worried to find he’s good at it. Carona the satyr became a celebrity on the celebration of Faunus, playing guest of honor to the feast. The rest of the time, she and Calvinus the Bard have been playing music in the taverns. The monk, Icio, has been conducting Christian ritual for those interested, while Augustinian is aiding the local priest in getting ready for Saturnalia, and trying to pick through the writing and mind of Valdo, the former wizard who is now old and half-senile. Marcellus and the soldiers have nothing to do but wait, so they have been training the town guard.

Then one evening, the guard spot a man out on the frozen Moenus River, and there looks to be more people camped in the burned out buildings of the former town of Morhenburg that once occupied the opposite bank. When they’ve found is an injured party of Celts (elves) who have been attacked by some new foe they’ve never seen. They were man-sized, ugly, and tactically proficient. After questioning them, they learn that these creatures were camped near their next destination, the city of Locoritum — population 20,000 or so, with a guard of maybe 2,000-3,000. The camp the Celts saw was about a legion’s strength (1000-3000 men!) They also think they were being pursued by the creatures.

The next day, the party goes out with the elves — now healed by Augustinian — and 20 of the town guard under the mayor, Stellan Hanau. They find the creatures camped in the woods east of the river. Marcellus takes the elves and flanks the camp, setting up to use their bows on the grotesque, gray-skinned, red-eyed creatures. Their camp shows discipline and organization, with good walls of snow, and men paired for guard duty. they are wearing heavy metal plate armor, and when the town guard is stopped, they set up guard along the edges of their camp, using cover well. The Roman legionnaire was impressed with their professionalism.

The leader met Stellan, flanked by Carrus (who thought them goblin-like), Augustinian and Icio, and Calvinus. After a tense bit of talk, in which the leader was calm, polite, but also imposing and unafraid, they were told to — essentially — piss off back to their town. Marcellus then gave a fateful order to strike and the elves let fly…five of the 30 or so creatures were dropped, but their organized counterstrike dropped many of the elven archers (some lucky crits happened…)

This led to a full-scale attack by the creatures, who were slowed by Calvinus’ use of shatter, but which saw half the town guard mowed down in the first few rounds, and the elves all but destroyed. Even with their leader down, the creatures fought with precision and fervor, even managing to injure the previously nigh-untouchable monk, Icio, badly.

The blood bath was reaching a crescendo — Icio surrounded by assailants, Carrus trying to reach him, the mayor of Wolfangel down, half their forces destroyed and the rest ready to flee, and Marcellus isolated from the group and facing more of these creatures —  when we knocked off for the night, to pick it back up again next week.

Wilson Combat has long been associated with producing high-quality combat and competition 1911-style pistols. The new XDC X9 was specifically created for concealed carry, and is an excellent choice for law enforcement and other agencies requiring concealability, the accuracy of the 1911 platform, and the high capacity of modern firearms.

EDCX9Scenic1.jpg

The XDC is essentially a double stack 9mm 1911 using a widened aluminum frame. The pistol has a 4″ cone barrel with fluting in the ejection port area and a 4″ long extractor to ensure function. Loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm, it comes in at just over two pounds, a full pound lighter than it’s closest rival, the Rock Island and Para-Ordinance 2011A1 style handgun (but they pack another two rounds…) Light, small, and highly accurate, this is a great choice for those who want the ergonomics of the 1911.

PM: +1   S/R: 3   AMMO: 15   DC: F   CLOS: 0-7   LONG: 10-18   CON: -2   JAM: 99+   DR: 0   RL: 1   COST: $3000

GM Information: Magazines on this pistol are proprietary and rare. If the agent were to lose one, it would require a 50XP to have them replaced, and it would still take 24-48 hours.

We opened the evening with the town guard of Wolfsangel looking south toward a forest fire that was smudging the low gray overcast with black. Trees on fire spreading quickly to ward the river under a leaden sky. And trudging toward the town, beaten and tired, the party. When asked about the creature — if they’d seen it, if they’d killed it, if they seen the missing children — we had short flashbacks to remind the players what happened.

Then we jumped back to the fight with “the Dark Man”, a creature used by the locals to control their bratty kids…except this one was real and kidnapping/murdering them. The creature is black-skinned, black-eyed, and apparently can stretch itself out like a shadow. It hides in the dark and seems to use the water to move about. It also uses the dead children as a weapon, having the wee zombies lure the Dark Man’s victims.

They were setting fire to the trees to light the area, especially after it looked like the creature was sensitive to light. While doing this, the creature rose up and pushed the bard, Calvinus, and the cleric, Augustinian, into the water of the pond it seems to be inhabiting — a pool of black, still water that doesn’t even reflect the lights around it. Once in the water, the two were grabbed by the dead children that were taken here, and they tried to drag them deep to drown them.

Meanwhile, Carrus the Dwarf — a relatively local person, got an excellent roll on his Arcana — the legends of the Drak Man say it’s a person either evil and executed, or wrongly-accused and executed; ether way the spirit remains to seek vengeance. They are supposedly susceptible to silver. He warned the monk, Icio, who filled his fists with coins and fired up his radiant soul feat, flaring with holy light, wings and all…and actually seemed to do real damage. The creature slunk back into another puddle and disappeared.

Meanwhile, the light from radiant soul caused the dread children to release the others, who swan to shore and the party retreated to regroup and rethink their actions.

Back in the town, Carrus got to work in the blacksmith’s shop (the family having decamped) adding silver filigree to their weapons with the help of Steven, the Down’s Syndrome animal handler, and Carona, their satyress.

Marcellus, their nominal leader, met with the town elder and questioned him about the notion the creature might have been one of them, or someone they executed. A drifter came through a few months back — a rapist and murderer. They hung him, then dumped him in the refuse out near the barrows.

Icio, Calvinus, and Augustinian went to see Valdo, the old man who was once allegedly a wizard, and were surprised when he and his female caretaker were waiting for them. Screwed up, didn’t they — going in unprepared and not knowing what they were up against. The creature is stuck between life and death, the body dead, but the soul unable to go to its rest…and those souls are his, Valdo told them. The adversary of Icio’s god — and his — somehow trapped the spirit here, and it has been collecting them, denying him his rightful prize. With some prising, they realize they are talking to Pluto, who is not happy about the Dark Man situation.

The creature is, indeed, susceptible to silver, but that will only stop it for a while. To end it’s reign of terror, they must release the spirit. In the mountains of papers hoarded by Valdo is the answer, a spell to release the soul. Pluto gives them the ability to read the Nordic runes, so they can translate the spells into Greek. Instead of the spell disolving off of the page as D&D rules say, these simple become unintelligable again, once the INT check has been made (successfully or no) and the words transcribed. He also tells them that the demon, Aiton, that Icio is seeking may be the Adversary himself!

Pluto simply disappears, but the old caretaker gives Icio some suggestions for how to work together with his party to be more effective and reduce the chance anyone is hit by the creature. He realizes the kindly imposter — for Valdo and his caretaker are fast asleep in their beds — may have been Minerva!

After four hours of searching, they find the banishment spell, as well as one to detect good and evil, speak to the dead, and detect magic — all were successfully transcribed. Returning to the smithy, they started to work out their plan of attack. But everything was thrown into turmoil when in the midst of their dinner, the creature rises out of their water barrel to take one of their men! Suddenly, they are in a fight with the creature in the smithy.

This time, they kick ass — the silvered weapons do damage, use of radiant and fire-based spells wore it down and apparently destroyed it. Quickly, they formed up and raced out to put an end to the creature. They found the rope he was hung with, a necessary part of the spell, and Augustinian started the exorcism. The creature, once again, cmae for them, but they were easily able to fend it off. The spell completed, the creature disappeared.

Having ended the wave of murders, they were feted by the town and allowed to stay in the blacksmith’s shop while they recuperated and prepared to press on to Locoritum.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this one: the characters all got to do some of their schticks — Marcellus got to do stealthy stuff, Carrus used his family-learned blacksmith skills, Icio had a crisis of faith after meeting the gods which was reflected in shitty rolls for a while, Augustinian got to read a bunch of Norse stories of their gods. The atmosphere and story were appropriately horror-tinged and seemed to go over well with the players. Lastly, the idea that the fallen angels are not in Hell (Hades), but on Earth, and that they are playing around in the old gods’ affairs has started to flesh out the world.