Better Than Any Man: An abject lesson in OSR reality or how to nearly get your asses handed to you on a plate

We were so close to a full house of players this week, unfortunately The Captain was unable to join us. Still, the four PC’s should be able to handle the handful of remaining bandits after their encounter last session, right? Right?

The situation they are in is this: having been hired by Adelbert Klepzig, a villager from Thungen to hurry to said village and dispose of the bandits that were keeping the town hostage (by keeping their children incarcerated in a nearby barn and threatening murder on them), Balock (), Hemming () and Maldron () had headed to Thungen. They hired a wagon ride from the reticent local hunter Fridericus, having traded their horses for his wagon. A plan was formulated to take the wagon into Thungen posing as merchants to draw the bandits out (rather than, say, liberate the children first); of course this plan, like many PC conceived plans (including many of my own) went to crap, with combat breaking out and a number of bandits finding themselves taking an express coach to meet their maker.

Seeing his compadres being hacked down this way one of the bandits (we’ll call him Krugar), maybe following orders, stops half way between the inn and the barn holding a small head, clearly that of a child. The threat is clear – stop what you’re doing or more kids will end up like this.

Fucked up for sure. So what to do? This is how it went down.

5092bc62d6b359ca1194c8e34d6934abBalock cut one of the horses free and began chasing down Krugar, hoping to beat him to the barn. I had everything worked out beforehand… it was 600 yards to the barn, the bandit was half way at 300 yards. Krugar could cover 40 yards per round and Balock on horse could cover 80. If he had just ridden like that he would have just arrived at the barn before the bandit. However, I didn’t tell him that and offered the option to push his horse… with some justification from @Benelio Balock had some riding skill so pushing his horse worked like this:

  • Success of 1-3 on 1d6 means the horse covers 120 yards instead of 80
  • Failure of 4-5 on 1d6 means the horse pushes back, is pissed off and only covers 40 yards
  • Failure of 6 on 1d6 means the rider falls of the horse taking 1d4 damage

Balock had some luck catching up with the bandit, but unfortunately fell off a couple of times meaning the bandit reached the barn before him.  Battered and bruised Balock reaches the barn after the bandit has joined his friend inside (along with all the children!)

kick-in-doorAs Balock sets off after the bandit Hemming and Maldron, along with Captain Hermann, decide to tackle Dittmar and his remaining thugs who are hiding in the inn, while Fridericus starts reloading his musket to take another shot at the bandit. The Fighter and Magic-User storm inside the inn to find the common room deserted excepting the barman who pops his head over the counter and tells them that Dittmar is upstairs. Hemming screams threats into the inn in an attempt to weaken the resolve of any bandits laying in wait. They kick open another door…

Meanwhile Miklos (), who has been absent while trying to help the distraught Mathilda, arrives at the edge of the village on horseback. He sees Balock speeding off after the bandit and Maldron and Hemming entering the inn. Clearly something is going on… making a snap decision Miklos heads off after Balock, but after taking a tumble from his horse decides to head for the inn where he can see a man loading a musket looking in Balock’s direction. He regains his horse and charges at the man, not realising it is their ally Fridericus and with a strong blow smashes his skull with his sabre. He is about to head off after Balock when he notices Dittmar on the balcony of the inn.

falling-of-horse2

Back inside the inn Maldron, Hemming and Captain Hermann explore the rest of the ground floor rooms with Hemming entering into a desperate melee with one of the bandits. Unable to help Maldron runs up the stairs and finds the room Dittmar occupies. Dittmar shouts a challenge – the first person through the door will get their head blown off!

0c9d44b244436193a29c278202a85364Hemming finishes off his opponent, running his rapier through the bandits throat… blood spurts from the wound for a few seconds as the man’s eyes lose focus and are still. Hemming then joins Maldron and Captain Hermann.

Then a load of crazy things happen at the same time. Maldron grabs the body of the dead bandit from the ground floor, intending to use it as a meatshield, while outside Miklos, having spotted Dittmar on the balcony with a pistol pointed into the room, rides carefully underneath the balcony. However Dittmar hears him and takes a shot – but misses! On cue Maldron and Hemming barrel into the room and Maldron throws the body at Dittmar. This is enough to put him off balance as he pulls out his second pistol.

The body crashes to the floor, just missing Miklos who is getting ready to prepare a spell. Charging at Dittmar, Maldron tries to wrestle him to the ground but loses his balance and Dittmar defly sidesteps causing Maldron to tumble over the balcony, the sound of a crunching bone coinciding with him hitting the packed earth below. Dittmar turns on Hemming, points his pistol at his chest and pulls the trigger. However the shot only lightly wounds Hemming who strikes back at Dittmar with his rapier, missing the cunning rogue.

Miklos then puts his plan into action and casts the Command spell, telling Dittmar to sleep. A powerful adversary, nevertheless Dittmar is unable to resist Miklos’s righteous, god given power and collapses to the floor, momentarily asleep. Hemming takes the opportunity to plunge his rapier into Dittmar’s eye, bringing his reign of terror to a satisfactory end.

At the other end of the village Balock’s horse comes to a halt outside the barn and Krugar orders him to throw down his weapons and dismount the horse otherwise another child will be killed. Balock’s brain goes into overdrive as he tries to incite the distant villagers to rise up and save their children, all the while stalling for time as he can now see the others riding towards him, but still some distance away. Eventually he concedes to the bandits and drops his sword, kneeling on the ground. Feeling the cold hand of death touching his shoulder as Krugar steps up behind him, no doubt planning on slashing his throat he tries to trick the bandit by looking to one side and shouting “the villagers!” (or something like that). Krugar, caught of guard falls for it and quickly turns to look while Balock pulls out his dagger, intent on backstabbing the scoundrel. Unfortunately he is too exhausted to use stealth and enters a grim combat with Krugar. As the second bandit approaches to help kill Balock, the cunning thief takes the opportunity to run into the barn and bars the doors shut.

Seeing the rest of the party bearing down on them the two remaining bandits flee for the nearby woods, reaching them before Miklos can strike them down cavalry style.

And so the session draws to a close. The children are saved, the bandits dead or fleeing and Thungen is once more free (until the Swedish army arrive of course…) The Black Dogs are able to heal a little and decide to wait a day or two before carrying on. They talk now to the locals and find a little more of the events in Karlstadt and the names of the Seven.

This was another session taken up entirely with a big combat encounter – I hadn’t really expected that to happen, but even with things moving on at a fast past it took some time to resolve. It also showed quite clearly how deadly combat in this game can be, just a few bad dice rolls can bring a PC to only a handful of hit points and close to death.

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