Introduction: This episode kicked the feud between the Split Waters and the Red Cow into high gear with a raid on Brightwater stead. For those with enemies among the Split Water it was an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting and for those without the chance to make them. Remember to keep track of the injuries inflicted by either side, especially deaths. Resolving the feud may require the payment of wergild and where there has been killing outlawry.
Scene 1: The Bloody Hand Gang
Setting: Winds Day, Disorder Week, Sea Season 1605. A deep fog shrouds everything. The godi are worried, such a dense fog is out of season, an Urain wind, a bad omen. It is an Iphara Fog, and portents murder. Orendal doubles the watch on the tower and walls. It is an Empty Moon day but the fog obscures the baleful red eye from gazing on sacred things.
Introduction: Dawn. Fog shrouds everything. The sun is still hidden behind the Wolf Ridge and Dogbone Hills to the east and yet to burn it off. The farmers have already risen and let the stock out into the homefield. The grandmothers curse; some call the fog an ill-omen, an Iphara Fog, and speak dire warnings. People mumble prayers to the ancestors. Morning duties over the farmers breakfast on porridge and ale. White Beak, the clan wyter, circles overhead, cries. People look up from their breakfasts, concern etched across their faces. Then Ashart’s Call sounds the call to arms. The stead is under attack!
Action: Killer Oddi is on guard in the watchtower, sounding Ashart’s Call. Dense fog is everywhere. Visibility within the stead is poor, no more than a twenty or thirty yards. It is difficult to understand what is happening. People dash around looking for direction or orders. The hearth-heads: Hahlgrim, Arkell, Orendal, Umathkar, Argrand, and Darrol try to organize people within their hall. “The call is to the southern wall. Warriors go to the wall!” To some the hearth-head says “Remain here with elders and children” and to others “Come to the wall and stand below, we will need our help.”
Heroes can grab weapons from pegs and trunk, but waiting to don armour means heroes will be delayed getting to the walls as events begin
Killer Oddi is on guard in the watchtower, sounding Ashart’s Call. Dense fog is everywhere. Visibility within the stead is poor, no more than a twenty or thirty yards. It is difficult to understand what is happening. People dash around looking for direction or orders. The hearth-heads: Hahlgrim, Arkell, Orendal, Umathkar, Argrand, and Darrol try to organize people within their hall. “The call is to the southern wall. Warriors go to the wall!” To some the hearth-head says “Remain here with elders and children” and to others “Come to the wall and stand below, we will need our help.”
The children scream and cry [there are 33 in the stead, about five or six per hearth]. The grandmothers tell those remaining to quiet them. The elders [there are about two per hearth for a total of 8] tell the helpers to organize the packing. If people have to flee to first safety they must be ready. There are tough decisions to be made. What should be taken, what should be left? Usually raiders seek plunder, so valuables should be taken, but if the come as burners then the basics need to go, so people can rebuild. No one is sure what to do.
Contest: Calm Children
- Appropriate Abilities: Calm Children, Inspire Clan (-5), Relationship to bloodline(-5), Cheerful Singing feat (-10)
- Typical Modifiers: Older children can augment efforts if they can be calmed first
- Resistance: 14 modified for multiple targets – 3 per child beyond the first. You can only calm about six children at a time.
- Victory Level: The victory level determines how long the children remain calm for, a complete defeat will keep them calm throughout the crisis, a major victory them calm unless they have to flee, a minor victory until the situation changes, and a marginal victory for a few minutes at best.
- Tie: The children remain calm while you talk to them, but leave them and they will panic.
- Defeat Level: The defeat level determines how badly the children panic. On a complete defeat they will run screaming from the stead. On a major defeat they run to hiding places in the stead. On a minor defeat they run to hiding places in the hearth, refusing to move. On a marginal defeat they are frozen with fear, crying and screaming.
- Sample Children’s names: [Boys] Broyan, Valstarkor, Jarenst, Joratoros [Girls] Willomena, Garzeena, Jerernalda, Roitini.
Defending the walls.
The stead’s few defenders gather on the walls. There are ten members of the fyrd here. Any heroes who are members of the fyrd or huscarls are included in this number and should join them or be shamed. Stiffening the line of the fyrd stand the hearth heads: Hahlgrim, Arkell, Orendal, Umathkar, Argrand, and Darrol. Killer Oddi comes down from the watchtower to join those on the wall.
Torches pick out a cluster of heavily armed women and men on the fog’s edge, gathered twenty yards from the wall. Magic glitters on spears, swords, shields, and bright mail-coats. A standard carried high bears the banner of the Bloody Hand – the Split Waters warband. A quick headcount reveals 35 warriors gathered before the stead, seven weaponthanes, each with their four storms.
Now is a good time for heroes to augment with their Brave. Make this a variable augment, defeat represents the penalty as the hero quakes before his foes [if a hero does not have a Brave ability then they augment with a value of 6]
The defenders of Brightwater have some advantages over the attackers:
- Defending a palisade wall or a doorway gives a defender a +3 defensive bonus.
- Defending from the palisade gives a defender a +10 advantage for height.
- The clan wyter, White Beak flies overhead. He uses his Defence Blessing to aid the defenders. He has no specific ability (-5), and is targeting the whole community – non-combatants included (-30) – for a total ability of 5W and a +3 bonus to defending against attacks.
- A +20 bonus to Know Local Area for knowledge of the clan tula which can then augment any attempts to set an ambush or evade pursuit.
- Hahlgrim can use Yorsarth Three-Sticks to augment the defenders: +3 to attack (Fight for Family); +3 to flee (Evade Enemy). Hahlgrim picks one person to receive this benefit, by giving them the dagger, as multiple target penalties would negate the benefit of spreading it over several people.
Supporting the Walls
Healers, runners, and magicians gather below the palisade. When Hahlgrim sees the number of raiders he reaches a quick decision, and addresses those assembled below, ‘Flee to second safety! We may not hold these raiders long enough for the Red Bulls to reach us. Or else they may burn us out before we do, that burner bitch Enastara the Red leads their raid. Gather the elders and children. Gather the cows; don’t leave them for those bloody bastards to steal’. He then refocuses on the challenges from outside the walls, leaving those below to decide if they will help to evacuate the community or stay behind to offer what help they can.
The Champion’s Battle
Enastara the Red shouts out the champion’s challenge. “People of Brightwater, kin to Hahlgrim Asrans-Bane, I still have no vengeance for the death of my father. Even the smell of the Burning of Eoric’s Stead cannot mask the scent of Hahlgrim’s kin in the wind. My spear Gutpiercer has left many men screaming as they gazed down upon their own entrails spilling to the floor. Brightwater’s urn field is kept full with those I have sent to greet their ancestor’s in Orlanth’s Hall. Come those that will stand for Brightwater, as I stand for the Bloody Hand gang, so that we might test our mettle in a game of spears. Or are you craven, to hide behind wooden walls. ” Some people look towards Hahlgrim, but no narrator characters step forward. If no heroes step forward to take their place the defenders suffer Orlanth’s Scorn. Everyone knows this. This is Divine Wrath and acts as a-2 penalty to all defenders. If someone is rash enough to step forward, older members of the stead try to warn them off; “Careful lad, she is not warband leader of the Split Waters for nothing. This challenge is fit for Jaranil the Thunder or Jordarn the Clash”. Convincing the clan to let them fight as a champion depends on the support they seek – see HeroQuest p.90.
Enastara the Red, Warband Leader
A devotee of Finovan the Raider Enastara has a great herd of red cows taken in numerous raids. Courageous and charismatic, people follow Enastara instinctively. A skilled warrior her position as warband leader is not just due to her mother Babessa the Merciless. Her sister Kullina Line-Breaker is clan champion. Enastara is attractive with blond hair and blue eyes and flowing yellow cloak. Many men court her, but she has vowed to take no husband until her vengeance on the bloodline of Hahlgrim Far-Walker is complete. Hahlgrim Far-Walker killed her father Asran Rain-Bringer. Enastara led the Burners of EoricStead.
Keywords: Devotee of Vinga Finovan 5W, Warrior 3W2, Weaponthane 6W.
Significant Abilities: Brave 6W, Charismatic 7W, Sword and Shield fighting 1W2 (+28 when mounted), Spear and Shield Fighting 3W2 (+28 when mounted), Javelin 14W.
Equipment: Chain Mail hauberk and shield +4, iron spear +6, sword +3, 3 javelins +3, battle trained horse.
- Spear Help +3 Spear and Shield fighting
- Burst of Speed + 3 Spear and Shield fighting.
- Searing Bolt +3 Spear and Shield fighting.
Enastara’s spear is wreathed in blue lightning, which crackles and sparks. The haft is ebon black. Enastara moves supernaturally quickly, winds whistle around her as she does so.
The outcome of the champion’s battle affects morale. If the heroes win the defenders receive a morale bonus based on Enastara’s ability rating and the level of the victory (use the same benefits as completing a HeroQuest station). If they lose their opponents gain an augment based on their champion’s ability rating and the level of the defeat.
Anyone who defeats Enastara will gain renown among their companions and a place in stories.
The Warrior’s Battle
With the Champion’s Battle ended, individuals from the Bloody Hand Gang begin to call out challenges. There is no Divine Wrath to face here, these people do not represent their community, and instead they are settling personal scores. Heroes should be able to pick out individual foes in the enemy battle line and call out challenges and curses. Allow them to augment for personal hatreds when fighting those foes.
Transition to the Fyrd Battle
When any individual challenges have been fought to a conclusion, the Bloody Hand Gang storms the stead. The Destori sprint forward of the Humakti, the wind lifting their feet. They carry wooden ladders to scale the palisade walls and shield their advance from missiles with heavy shields. The defenders may get javelins off during the approach. The Destori weaponthanes lead the attack, using their Leap over Obstacle feat to clear the palisade and land on the rampart [Resistance 14: unrelated action]. Clearing a space for their storms to join them, they swing their swords savagely against defenders. The Humakti are more dogged, fighting as they climb the walls, sword in one hand, shields slung on their backs. Rapidly the wall breaks into pockets of fighting around which invaders and defenders struggle. Even if the heroes hold their section of the wall, others fall. Soon the heroes find themselves separated from a knot that has formed around Hahlgrim and his sons Orendal and Arkell.
Split Waters Hu weaponthane
Orlgardos the Bad, Torvath the Crow, Asborn Dark-Blood.
Keywords: Devotee of Hu 5, Heortling Warrior 10, Heortling Weaponthane 4.
Significant Abilities: Brave 1, Sword and Shield Fighting 17
Equipment: Bronze and leather armour and shield +3, sword +3
- Truesword Stroke +3 Sword and Shield fighting
- Visage of Fear + 3 Sword and Shield fighting.
- Brave + 3 Sword and Shield fighting.
Split Waters Hu storm
Keywords: Warrior 3W, Initiate of Hu 19.
Significant Abilities: Brave 1W, Sword and Shield Fighting 11W.
Equipment: Leather armour and shield +3, sword +3.
- Sword Combat Affinity +2 Sword and Shield fighting
- Death Affinity +2 Sword and Shield fighting
- Brave +2 Sword and Shield fighting
These warriors’ swords gleam dully with magic. They do not taunt, but are grim and silent.
Split Waters Destor Weaponthane
Entarosa Try-Much Warrior 19W, Weaponthane 3W Devotee of Vinga Destor 11W, Mosdorl Thin-Spear, Minlin Blacktooth.
Keywords: Devotee of Destor 5W, Heortling Warrior 10W, Heortling Weaponthane 4W.
Significant Abilities: Brave 1W, Sword and Shield Fighting 12W, Javelin 4W.
Equipment: Bronze and leather armour and shield +3, sword +3, 3 javelins +3
- Armour of Woad feat +3 Armour
- Flickering Blade +3 Sword and Shield Fighting
- Burst of Speed +3 to Sword and Shield Fighting, or Javelin
Split Waters Destor Storm
Keywords: Warrior 3W, Initiate of Destor 19.
Significant Abilities: Brave 1W, Sword and Shield Fighting 6W.
Equipment: Leather armour and shield +3, sword +3, 3 javelins +3
- Combat Affinity +2 Sword and Shield fighting
- Movement Affinity +2 Sword and Shield fighting
- Brave +2 Sword and Shield fighting
These warriors’ swords ripple with blue fire and they move with an unearthly speed – here and now there making them difficult to hit or block.
The tight knot around Hahlgrim fights bravely. Hahlgrim’s forces try to hold out, they know they cannot win this fight, but they want to buy time for the women and children to flee to first safety, hopefully with as man cattle as possible. Heroes must make a decision, fight their way to Hahlgrim’s side or help with the evacuation. Already some Bloody Hand Gang warriors have abandoned pressing on Hahlgrim to sack the stead. If they decide to fight their way to Hahlgrim they will need to push past at least one weaponthane and his storms. They may be able to rally other members of the fyrd to fight with them at their lord’s side. Fighting alongside Hahlgrim will leave them facing the core of the Bloody Hand Gang. The end should come before they all fall. Hahlgrim will order the remainder to flee – hoping that the women and children have had enough time to escape. Hahlgrim’s sons refuse, swearing to die by his side. Hahlgrim shouts ‘Run you fools!’ His sons flee.[This events never happened in our game, like everything here is was an option to throw in. I never used it because the story did not go that way]
Organizing the flight to safety
There are three tasks facing those evacuating Brightwater: leading the women and children to safety; gathering any valuables; rounding up the cattle. Possible complications include the old grandmother who refuses to leave her home; the young children who are missing somewhere in the stead; the appearance of a weaponthane and his four storms, who have broken through the perimeter wall and are looting the stead. The Bloody Hand Gang is not set on stead burning or killing women and children. This raid is about plunder and blood vengeance. This time…
Victory or Defeat?
The actions of the heroes on the walls should suggest the broader outcome. If they repel the assault here at the wall, with blood and hero points they may win a famous victory over their enemies. If they are forced from the palisade, then they still may have bought enough time, for others to have spirited wealth and families to first safety with little damage to Brightwater. If they are overrun Brightwater will be plundered but not burned.
At last, alerted by the wyter, the Red Bulls arrive led by Valenstor, flanked by Jordarn the Clash and Jaranil the Thunder. White-Beak flies overhead, screeching his war-cry. Kenstral Elf-Breaker stamps and snorts on the Red Bull banner. Ivartha the Skinner shows great concern – these are her kin and she asks after them. The other weaponthanes ride in too, accompanied by their storms. On foot, jogging to keep up are members of the short call. Gathering able bodied fighters they move out to retake Brightwater. This might be a counterattack where the Red Cow gets to prevent looting and gain vengeance or the realization that the raiders have fled with much of the stead’s wealth. Kalf Triplet-Born rides with the war-band, worried for Orsta. Kenstan Worm-Tongue and Minaryn the lawspeaker are here too, to take oaths and sing of great deeds. Minaryn asks people to recount what happened, who was hurt or killed on both sides, who did the hurting and killing, and swear oaths as to those accounts. This is normal, in case the matter should come to war.
There will be deaths, maybe on either side. The feud between Split Water and Red Cow has been refreshed with new blood, and new kin crying for vengeance. The Conquering Storm say: “At Sea Season moot we will call for the chief to pass the red collar, and call the clan to war”. The Split Waters widows cry for blood vengeance.
Healing the Wounded
There may be those who need healing that the stead cannot provide. Swena the Upright is the clan’s best healer. She lives at Burnt Oak. Word will have to be sent to bring her to Brightwater to heal the wounded. Of course Kalf Triplet-Born also lives at Burnt Oak, so sending Orsta could make an interesting encounter likely.
Heroes who defeat members of the Bloody Hand gang may strip them of weapons and armour. This is expected. They may capture prisoners. To be held for payment of their honour price. By rights the spoils of battle, plunder or ransom, belongs to the chief. Of course most people expect that the chief will gift them with fairly won plunder, but this is not required and the chief may take a portion to compensate those that are needier. [Spend a hero point to cement wealth or items gained here]. If the looting cannot be prevented, then everyone in Brightwater will loose wealth, carried off by the raiders. The raiders are capable of carrying off three or four dozen cows of wealth, about a fifth of the stead’s wealth. Individuals will lose this proportion of their own wealth.
If Hahlgrim dies the Osmanning will need a new spakeman. The sons of Hahlgrim stand ready to take his place. Will others be encouraged to stand against them? Following a meeting at Orendal’s stead Ivartha throws her support behind him. He throws his support behind her bid to become chief. Arkell is outraged. The new spakeman will be chosen at ancestor day. In the meantime, the elder grandmother, Estaki Burnt-Lodge, speaks for the bloodline. Tara is bereft. But while she is allowed to mourn, the bloodline is anxious to find her a new husband from within to take on the burden of raising her child by Hahlgrim. If Hahlgrim lives then some may question that both he and his sons failed to take the champion’s challenge.