27 September, 457 Anno Domini Nostri Iesu. It is evening.
The PCs are currently on the road, marching back from the war that ended so inconclusively.
Thanks to Angus, though, the characters are aware of many things. Dumnonia itself has collapsed into civil war as the high king fled into Saecsen lands and one of the most powerful nobles – Erbin ap Constantine – appears poised to seize control of the kingdom with the assistance of his cousin, King Cadell of Powys, though he (Lord Erbin) will not claim the high kingship.
Rumor has it that Vortigern was refused hospitality by his father-in-law, Hengist, and has since vanished, though there are many stories indicating he is seeking alternate alliances among the other nobles of Prydain. Of his ‘wife,’ Rowena, nothing is said, prompting many to suspect she returned to her father … or has been slain.
Irish raids have increased along the southern borders of Wales, particularly focused on and around Demetia (which is comprised of Irish conquerors turned Welshmen.) Rumors state that their is a great upheaval of some sort taking place in Eire as rival factions war to become the next high king of Tara.
But we are not going to focus on this, not yet. Instead, we’re jumping straight to Bryn Euryn where Chief Owain of Rhos is walking with his spymaster, Lord Berthgwyn. They are both only recently returned from the campaign against the high king and are discussing Owain’s wife, Princess Brigid, who has inexplicably vanished, when suddenly, a small force of armed warriors erupt from the undergrowth! Berthgwyn is felled almost at once – a hurled spear catches him high in the chest and the shock of the injury is too much for him. Owain lasts a few moments longer but his unluckiness once more rears its head and he too falls.
As his foes close in upon him and he starts to slide into agonized unconsciousness, he hears a voice call out, “Hold!” and the last thing he sees before darkness claims him is Lord Ieuan, Lord Rhodri, and Lord Serigi, all approaching calmly. It is a coup!
Act II: Another Series of Unfortunate Events
28 September, 457 Anno Domini Nostri Iesu. It is evening and the PCs have only just arrived in Caerhun after twenty days or so on the road. Word has not yet reached them of the events in Bryn Euryn, and all of them are looking forward to rest and relaxation. Having stripped off their armor, most are readying themselves for bed.
Suddenly, the armcry is raised as several buildings on the far side of the village have caught fire! Without hesitation, the PCs seize their weapons and shields before rushing to investigate…
As they reach the halfway point, Lady Meadhbh smells dried sweat and unfamiliar bodies. She calls out a warning an instant before an arrow flashes through the darkness toward Bradán. Without her warning, he would have been struck in the chest but as he was half-turning toward his sister, the arrow instead slams into his shield. It is an ambush!
Screaming their battle-cries, a small force of men leap from concealment and charge, but Meadhbh’s warning (and the general paranoia of the PCs) prevents this from being a complete surprise and, in seconds, the battle has seen its first casualties. Gwion draws and looses an arrow at an attacker, killing him instantly, as Marcus rushes a pair of men with Fragarach – neither of those men manage to strike him, but his retaliative blow encompasses both, severing an arm of one and a leg of another! Aedán, Angus and Heddwyn all show their quality on the field of battle as they conspire to fell others while Bradán attempts to rally his forces and Meadhbh presses her attack.
Upon seeing so many of their number felled so quickly, the few survivors attempt to retreat but Bradán’s orders – hold unless they break, then kill them all – result in them being chased down. Meadhbh kicks a man to death as Marcus charges the archer who makes one last attempt to drop one of the band with an arrow that the former Roman catches upon his shield; as the man flees, Marcus spies Echo who has finally deigned to investigate the noise and urges the hound to bring the archer down. Without a sound, the dog springs forward and attacks in the traditional method: hamstring to fell the man, then throat to finish him.
Meanwhile, Bradán has found himself engaged in a wrestling match with one of the last survivors (who is desperately trying to get away from the man known as “The Ruthless”) and the lord of Caerhun eventually gains the upper hand (especially when his sister approaches and kicks the man in the groin.) Bradán promptly loses his temper and beats his foe bloody with his bare hands before seizing a shield and decapitating him with the edge.
The would-be ambush has failed rather spectacularly as none of the PCs are even wounded (despite being without armor) and all of the enemy are dead.
Game actually ended slightly after this but I’m going to make minor retcons at the beginning of next session to better elaborate what happens next. Nothing major changes, just some minor tweaks for flow.
My plan was always for there to be a coup against Owain but I was planning on doing it later. The dice disagreed: for the Summer Kingdom Check, I roll a Dangerous Kingdom Event that turned out to be … Assassination Attempt. So I decided the coup was a go!
The first ambush was an experiment of sorts. We use Fantasy Grounds to play so I generated 50 point characters for all players, then had them run those characters instead of their normal PCs. Two players – Andricus and Gigermann – were running Berthgwyn and Owain respectively, but Andricus failed a Dodge roll at the beginning so he took a spear to the gut, then missed the resulting Major Wound check by 6. So in the very first round, he was TKO’ed (until the spear-thrower, played by Ronnke, went over and coup de graced him.) Then Gigerman had no luck during the fight. He would connect and the target (didn’t matter who) would actually make the Dodge check (usually against a Dodge of 8!)
The second ambush was also fortuitous thanks to the dice. When planning this session, I wasn’t sure how to proceed but then, as I rolled against the PCs’ Enemies and Secrets, both Bradán and Marcus Enemies came up. So I decided “ambush!” The opening arrow shot literally missed by 1 (effective skill was down to 12 and the attack roll was a 13) so I decided Meadhbh’s warning caused Bradán to half turn toward her and catch the arrow on his shield.
Meadhbh killed a man by kicking him in the groin until he died. Ouch.
Afterward, it occurred to me that, since Meadhbh is about 3 months pregnant at this point, she’s very probably aware of this fact so I’m going to have to address that in the game in the next session.