Scene 16: The Giant Cradle!
The final scene of this tournament allows the characters to take part in a great historical event; an event which marked the beginning of the Hero Wars and the close of the Third Age of Glorantha. This event is simply known as “The Cradle”.
Important Note: The idea behind this combat is to make it epic and heroic, rather than devolve into a endless dice-rolling stat-fest. Run the events with this end in mind. Hell, if you want to (and your players don’t mind), you can even run this as a story-telling session and largely ignore the stats. The main thing is that the characters have a good time…
The Cradle Draws Near
It is now noon, of Wildday, Harmony Week, Season season (full moon). By now, the Storm of the night before has totally blown itself out, and Yelm once again shines over the golden fields of Sun County. Everyone sweats under their armour in the hot sun, wondering what has happened to the Cradle?
Suddenly, a pair of vrok hawk scouts fly in and land on their priests’ shoulders. The news soon spreads that the Cradle is on its way. Several other familiar birds fly off to have a look, including Invictus’s ally “Tercel” who asks Bob if he’s coming. The birds on the wing get a magnificent aerial view of the Cradle.
The point where a stream flows into the river is marked by a huge white boulder. As the Cradle passes this point, Bob and the birds notice a group of perhaps a dozen figures leap up into the sky from cover, flying on miniature whirlwinds. They leave behind the curious circluar depressions in the fields. The figures fly over to the cradle and embark on its deck.
Note: if Mad Prax wasn’t killed or detained previously, Bob notices a large alticamelus in the field.
Minutes later, the Cradle hoves into the army’s view round the bend. The Cradle is about 125 meters long, and sits about 20 meters above the water, which churns magically to propel the Cradle along. From far away it looks like a toy wooden boat carved from a single piece of wood, with alternating wide and narrow rings visible in the rich grain. Huge carved dragon heads with glowing eyes rise up from the stem and stern, and other faces are carved around the hull, along with runes and sigils.
Visible only from above, Bob can report that the deck has a transparent cover in it. Below a gigantic baby girl (SIZ 100) and an immense sow (SIZ 50) rest on straw in separate compartments. Occasionally the baby lifts the sow out of its stall and suckles from it as if it were a giant milk bottle. There are approximately fifty or sixty human defenders on the deck too, hurriedly preparing for the Sun Dome assault. In the water below, a number of water creatures (newtlings, ducks, intelligent fish and river folk) accompany the vessel.
As the Cradle draws closer, it becomes obvious that it has seen a lot of action upriver. The hull is scorched and marred, and many of the carved heads on it have been burned off. A huge boulder sits squarely in the middle of the transparent deck, causing a long crack across it and the charred remains of a fabric tarpaulin that once shielded the infant from the sun now flutters fitfully in the breeze. The whole deck appears scorched and seared (during one of their numerous assaults, the Lunars tipped a huge vat of boiling oil onto the Cradle from the Pavis bridge, as well as the boulder).
The Hawks vs. The Crows
A number of flying creatures swarm above the Cradle, familiars of the defenders acting as lookouts over the Sun Dome forces. Tercel, the ally of Lord Invictus, orders Bob and the other vrok hawks to attack them and force them down. Play this like a scene out of Top Gun, with Tercel as Tom Cruise.
Bob gets fight Adelaide, the crow ally of a Lhankor Mhy priest. Adelaide is no fighter, and instead wants to return to her master on the deck as swiftly as possible. It takes her 10 melee rounds to get within arrow range of the Cradle, and 2 more to get within spell range. If Bob follows her in, he gets all manner of missile weapons and spells lobbed at him the Cradle defenders. After each flying attack on his prey, Bob must circle for 1d3 melee rounds.
|Adelaide the CrowAllied Spirit of a Lhankor Mhy Sage aboard the Cradle.STR 01|
DEX 24Move: 1/10 flying
Hit Points: 3
Magic Points: 15 + 19 master
DEX sr 1 + SIZ sr 3 = 4
Dodge: 85%01-20 Body 01-20 0/3— Does not attack physically —Spirit Magic (75%): Mindspeech-6, Countermagic-3, Protection-5, Disrupt (1), Heal-3, (known by master, and not all that useful right now) Detect Parchment (1), Detect Vellum (1), Detect Ink (1), Detect Magic (1), Detect Spirits (1), Detect Fossil (1), Detect Blood (1), Detect Life (1), Detect Water (1), Detect Gold (1), Detect Virgin (1), Detect Wine (1), Detect Undead (1), Detect Glass (1), Detect Detection (1). Divine Magic (one use): Heal Wound x1.Skills: Dodge 85%, 6th-Century Pelorian Literature 93%.Note: Adelaide’s one concern is to get back to the Cradle deck. If attacked, she casts her Protection and Countermagic, then Disrupts her foe, hoping to knock out a vital location (eg. a wing).
As the Cradle draws closer, the PCs are directed to their positions on the bank. Meanwhile the archers rake the deck of the Cradle with Multimissiled arrows. Then, there is a tremendous TWANG as a great arrow launches itself out of the spear-throwing machine. It travels through the air in a graceful arc, trailing the chain behind it. The harpoon embeds itself firmly in the hull of the Cradle and the Templars give a rousing cheer!
Three minutes later another volley of arrows is accompanied by the next harpoon; and three minutes after that it is repeated again. All three arrows strike their target; a more a consequence of the enormous size of their target than attribute to accuracy of the machine’s crew. Once all the harpoons have hit home, the teams of oxen pull taut the connecting chains, in order to drag the Cradle into shore. As they watch this, a junior Light Servant (acolyte) arrives to bless them, and casts the following spells:
On Yelanda, Sarshas and Melo Yelo: Coordination 3 (raises DEX by 6 points, and thus all DEX x5 rolls by 30%, and DEX-based skills by 6%).
On Melo Yelo: Protection-6.
On Mars: Multimissile-4 on his first arrow, and Speedart on 3 more.
Bob misses out. Once his job is done, the acolyte (his magic points are gone) returns to the Count’s entourage on the bluff.
It is now time for the PCs to take action! Running up the chain requires a DEX x4 roll each melee round, but the character can hold weapons in both hands. Clambering up the chain requires a Climb roll, but if the roll is failed, the Climber need only make a DEX x5 roll to stay put, and then another Climb roll to continue in the next melee round. You must have both hands free to climb.
Melo Yelo is strong and agile enough to climb up the underside of the chain, going arm over arm. This protects him from missile fire.
It takes three melee rounds to get to where the arrow is embedded in the Cradle’s hull. Standing to fight on the arrow requires a DEX x4 roll each melee round. A character can crouch and hang onto the arrow shaft with one hand, but therefore can only use the other hand for combat. Note also that such characters have their Dodge halved.
Any character who fails a DEX roll falls off the chain or shaft and into the water. The water is being magically churned to float and push the Cradle along, and is full of river creatures hostile to the Sun Domers. A character in the water must make a Luck roll (POW x3) or be assailed by one of the river foes. These include newtlings, ducks or even undines. Stats have not been provided, so either wing the combat or have the luckless PC pulled onto one of the Sun Domer boats by some Templars.
Getting to the shore requires a Swim roll, after which they can run up the chain again if they wish. Alternatively, the character might scramble aboard one of the Sun Dome rafts, and climb up one of the scaling ladders to the chain. In any case, they should be able to get back into the action if they make their Swim roll. If they fail the roll, refer to the drowning rules in RuneQuest!
As Yelanda, Melo and Sarshas begin running up the chain, they notice similar squads making their way up the other two chains to the Cradle. Several defenders from the Cradle climb over the bulwarks and drop onto the arrow, where they commence chopping at the shaft. Meanwhile three bowmen fire at the PCs running up the chain! It is time for Mars to commence his bowshots!
The Bowmen expose only their heads, chests and arms as they bob up to fire, and have 12 points of armour each on these locations. Each fires two Speedarted arrows (1d8+4 damage) at 85% per melee round at the PCs climbing the chain. If any of these bowmen take damage he stops firing and disappears. Any bowman Mars fails to take care of in three melee rounds is taken care of by the massed archers behind him (however don’t tell Mars this will happen).
The Cradle defenders are powerful and skilled senior initiates, priests and rune lords, desperate and valiant heroes who have already been through a lot. One defender chops at the harpoon while the other two shield and defend him. Note that if the PCs didn’t kill Mad Prax earlier in the tournament, the chopping defender is the same guy, as “mad” as ever!
It is up to the PCs to knock out these defenders – Bob with spells, Mars with his arrows, and the others by combat, so the Cradle can be dragged ashore. Mars can manoeuvre to get clear shots at the defenders even while his comrades are in melee with them, but any missed shot (eg. 95-00) automatically hits a PC. In addition, fumbles are rolled normally (but remember Mar’s lucky cat’s paw!)
It takes the chopping defender 10 melee rounds to cut through the arrow shaft. The defenders have ropes around them, and are pulled back on board. The PCs probably fall in the river.
Sir Mortimer, Jack de Ath, Coriander-before-whom-even-the-Crimson-Bat-Trembles
Initiates of Humakt [duplicate x3 as required]STR 18
APP 11 Move: 3
Hit Points: 16
Magic Points: 16
DEX sr 2 + SIZ sr 2 = 4
Dodge: 49%19-20 Head 20 12/6
16-18 L.A. 18-19 12/5
13-15 R.A. 16-17 12/5
12 Chest 11-15 14/8
09-11 Abdm 07-10 14/8
05-08 L.L 04-06 12/6
01-04 R.L 01-03 12/6Bastard Sword SR-6 (1d10+5+1d6) A-100% Parry (10)-83%
Hoplite Shield SR-7 (1d6+1+1d6) A-30 Parry (18)-75%Spirit Magic: All have cast Bladesharp-4 and Protection-3, having drained their bound power spirits. None will cast further spirit magic save Dispel Magic-2 if they notice a comrade has been Befuddled, or Heal-3 if injured.Divine Magic: Shield x1 (cast: note that this gives 2 points of Protection and Countermagic.)Skills: Climb 60%, Swim 35%.
If the PCs manage to knock out the defenders, they can attempt a Climb roll to scramble over the bulwarks and onto the deck of the Cradle. There they can fight any number of defenders until the Cradle breaks free and begins floating downriver again. They have the choice of a valiant death in front of the whole Sun Dome cult, or can try to Jump over the side and Swim back to shore.
The defenders on the Cradle deck are beefier than those cutting at the harpoon, being mostly rune lords and priests. Use the same defender stats as above again, but gross ’em out with the following modifications:
- Raise attacks and parries by 50%.
- Raise armour on all hit locations by 8 points.
- Each defender is protected by at least Countermagic-3
- Double rolled weapon damage (Truesword spells).
Each melee round they remain on deck, the PCs are hit by one or more of the following effects, cast at them by other desperate defenders. Roll d10:
- Nothing (phew!)
- Befuddle spell, POW 18, backed up by 1d6-1 MP.
- Demoralize spell, POW 18, backed up by 1d6-1 MP.
- 2 x Disrupt spell, POW 18 & 13, each backed up by 1d3-1 MP.
- Dispel Magic 1-4, dispelling the PC’s Bladesharp, Protection, Countermagic, or other appropriate spell.
- Lightning x3, POW 18 (3d6 damage to random hit location if MP are overcome; armour does not protect)
- Sleep, POW 21. Note that this is a 3 point spell. Because it is a Healer’s spell, a “Sleeped” character will not be harmed further, just simply thrown overboard.
- Speedarted Medium Crossbow bolt, 2d4+5 damage (110% chance to hit).
- Firearrowed Javelin, 3d6+1d3 damage (90% chance to hit).
- Roll twice more!
The Sun Sets
Sadly, as history tells us, the Cradle makes it through Sun County, and even past the final epic battle the Lunars staged at the river’s mouth at Corflu. So, sadly, the PCs are doomed to fail.
Whether or not the PCs manage to knock out the defenders cutting at their harpoon and perhaps even get onto the Cradle’s deck, the Cradle defenders chopping at the two other harpoons defeat their Sun Dome foes and cut the spear hafts through. This can happen at any dramatic stage; ideally moments after they defeat their opponents and triumphantly surmount the bulwarks and leap down onto the deck!
The Cradle begins to lurch away from the shore, powered by the churning undines underneath it. The remaining chain strains against it, as the oxen struggle in vain under the frantic whips of their drivers. Finally, the last spear snaps free, and the Cradle is afloat once again. The remaining Sun Dome warriors are swamped in their boats by the choppy water, fall from their scaling ladders, and leap from the Cradle or remain to fight and die at the hands of the defenders.
Epilogue: Dole out the Rewards
Although the Cradle got away, the PCs still have a chance of winning glory if they acquitted themselves well. Dole out the rewards if you think they deserved it.
Invictus’s resistance to her promotion is removed. The next holy day finds her in golden armour in front of the whole cult, inducted as the Sun Dome’s newest Light Lady.
Bob gets to bask in the glory of his mistress’s promotion. Although the other cult birds still occasionally rib him about having a woman as mistress, they can only accord him respect because of his mistress’s bravery during the Cradle affair, not to mention his own contribution.
On the same day Yelanda is made a Light Lady, Melo is inducted as an “honourary lay member” in the Yelmalio cult, and the priests assure him that in his next life he will be reborn as pure human, so that he can become a true son of the light. Melo earns the gift “Raised APP” and takes the geases “Never eat the meat of horses” (nobody said the life of a Sun Domer was easy).
Mar’s contribution is considered beyond that expected of a simple militiaman, and he is offered a place in the ranks of the Templars. As a devoted family man, barracks life may not appeal to him, despite the prestige and high pay. If he turns the offer down, the grateful cult awards him an extra portion of cult land in its stead.
The Count heard of Sarshas’s conduct at Harpoon. If Sarshas kept the Lunar flag flying (so to speak), he becomes one of the few individuals who acquitted themselves well in an otherwise highly embarrassing affair for the Lunars. This earns Sarshas a promotion; unfortunately, in the purge following the Cradle debacle, his fine reputation means that he is one of the few in Sor Eel’s administration that is not sent back to the Heartlands in disgrace. With the new rank of Captain of the Governor’s Bodyguard, maybe a few more years in Pavis won’t be all that bad…
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