Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Distant Inheritance 11

11: Session 5 – In the Giant’s Shadow

Things are moving along for our heroes - this session parallels the wood elf sequence from the source material, but without all the 'solo hero' stuff....

When we last left our company they had either just broken or been captured by the forces of Agarwaen the Red. If they are captured they are almost immediately rescued by the appearance of a second band of raiders, Fingolfin of Umbrel. If they are victorious they are surrounded almost immediately by those same forces. Even if victorious in their conflict the Cs should be battered, wounded with tired horses and otherwise not in a condition to fight (assume that at least two if not three of the PCs dice or modifiers are lost to these conditions if they want to engage another TN 30 force).

 A Lineage roll of 10+ will reveal that these riders are a cut above the bandits and make clear that that Fingolfin is not asking them to disarm or dismount, just to be surrounded by armed men holding riding shortbows and be lead to his camp. It is, as we say, a pointed invitation but it’s an invitation nonetheless.

Fingolfin’s camp is made of up tents and the company is greeted with the scents of roasting beef and goats for that night’s dinner. Fingolfin is in a fine mood as the company’s presence has removed one of his major enemies. He is giving the company a brief feasting to thank them for it before demanding some of their fungible goods for their safe passage to anywhere in ‘his lands’ i.e. anywhere in the giant’s shadow. But he does want to know where they’re going.

If the lie to him he will still send a force of men (and he has enough to make it meaningful) to ‘protect’ them on their way to wherever – they are too powerful a force to just leave unwatched. The PCs will have to ditch or kill that force (TN 15 for whatever they decide to do) to be able to move forward unwatched.

If they tell him the truth he will bark out laughing and then grow deadly serious when he realizes they aren’t kidding. Fingolfin’s got a lot to lose if the company riles the giants up. Plus, he just doesn’t think they have a prayer. The prophecy is hooey, believed only by people who live safely in the sheltered dales. In the giant’s shadow they know that there is no miracle coming. The company will have to convince Fingolfin otherwise. Or they can try to escape, but that would mean killing a lot of generally noble men (Fingolfin, like Dwalin, isn’t a bad guy – he just has the most to lose if the PCs screwup) and hitting the mountains with minimal supplies and trouble at their back.

No if they want Fingolfin to think they can do what he and his men refuse to try, each PC will have to prove to Fingolfin that they can do something that he can’t. This means a series of tests.

(The PCs, especially any lost heirs, can knock one of these tests down by showing the combination of Varangan and the chamberlain’s amulet. This takes a TN 15 Lineage test and knocks it down to TN 5 due to two magic items – any Lost Heir worth his salt should be able to make that roll. That will still resolve only one of the tests. There’s still one more per PC, but the lost heir will be able to handle another one if one of the others screws up – this is permission for one PC to screw up.)

Whatever the PCs come up with, they should be TN 15 individual events or TN 15 contests. The heroes have considerable leeway here to play to their strengths, and this is mostly a chance for them to look cool. I assume they will win, since they will be able to select the competitions.

With one exception: Fingolfin will insist on facing the lost heir in a fair fight. There we learn that he too has a magic sword – the last missing sword of Tarmalania, Rathlan – and that makes him a TN 20 opponent when armored and mounted. The PC as the challenged party will be able to selected armored, mounted or both and if Fingolfin lacks either (or both) advantage he becomes TN 15 like every other challenge. If the lost heir is wielding Varagan those TNs drop by 5 as per normal.

If the company comes up short- and still insist on going - Fingolfin will strip them to their key gear and send them into the mountains (to likely die, but not in such a noisy fashion as to attract the giants). If they succeed he accepts their prophecied and noble right to go get themselves killed doing something stupid, but promises to aid them when they get back. The PCs are in the best possible position to make their trek into the mountains.

Said trek is not easy. The first two days are free, The third requires a TN 5 athletics roll. An Education (Pathfinding or mapreading) 10 is required to follow the path through the mountains (TN15 if they no longer have Thom’s map), which makes day 9 another TN 5 athletics. Missing that roll means that day 9 is a TN 10 athletics roll. Failure means the usual +5 TN until they have a chance to recover, and another Education check to re-find the trail.

There should be one more obstacle here that is a TN 10 extended challenge (or 15 without the map), but you should tailor it to your group.  Once they succeed in that it’s just a description of hard travel until they lay eyes on the goal of their quest- the steading of the hill giant chief. It is huge, and has goblin guards and giant footprints around the place. It is a TN 5 Lineage roll to even bring ones self to look at it square on when they first see it. The place is so clearly their doom.

There endeth the fifth session.


  1. Fingolfin's not about to give up the sword, is he? Also, have you read Diana Wynne Jones's essay on the structure of the narrative of Lord of the Rings?

    1. Highly unlikely - unless the PCs kill him and take it (which would be well out of tone). More will be explained later.

      No, I haven't read the essay. Do you have a link to it?

  2. I don't have a link, but I do have the book the essay's in (Reflections on the Magic of Writing, and possibly a photocopy of it or a copy of the book I originally read it in). I don't know if it's online.