Week 1, Midsummer, Warm
The sweet scent of the wisteria climbing the Inn’s stone wall wafted through the open windows, carried on a midsummer night’s cool breeze settling in after the departure of the day’s warmth. The men of the Patrol sat together, drinking and singing songs with the Inn keeper and occasionally joined by one of the many other fellow patrons there that night. Off to the side of the large, table filled room three to four men sitting huddled in a corner and speaking in hushed tones slowly stood, their voices rising with them till the remainder of the room grew quiet. Hands slipped beneath cloaks to the blades hidden within, and slowly edged closer to the shafts of larger weapons laid against tables and walls. The candlelight hitting the largest man of the group, who were all now loudly swearing at each other, revealed grotesque features, monstrous in aspect. It was in fact an ogre, dwarfing the other men who were members of a loose group of highwaymen and cutthroats that frequented the Inn. The Patrol had by now ceased their revelry and also stood, steeling themselves for a fight and perhaps a chase into the night, though after whom they were not yet sure. The Patrol was no friend of the rogues, but the presence of an ogre in the Inn was a grievance against the peace difficult to let pass – or so they thought before the ogre tossed a bag of gold their way, at which point they decided perhaps the Rogues’ activities in and around the Inn were in actuality the greater problem. Without warning, the small group in the corner grew quiet. Not a soul in the room dared move. The ogre emitted a low rumbling growl as he dropped his stance slightly and adjusted his grip around the two-handed war-hammer so that one hand grasped the shaft just below the massive iron head. He knew he was outnumbered, and this would quickly become a close-in fight not suitable for swinging the long weapon through its full arc. He glanced about the room at the other Rogues, quickly calculating who among them he must kill first lest a blade find its way to his heart. All at once the Rogues rushed in for the slaughter, toppling chairs and sending stew and mead flying in all directions. The ogre kicked over a table to slow a few coming from his left but they only leapt over the obstacle like foxes chasing a rabbit. All at once they were on him. At the instant the rogues made their rush, an old hag who had been sitting quietly in a corner with her shawl pulled tight to keep the chill off her shoulders stood screeching and waved her wizened hand across her face, sending stones and rocks both from outside and within cutting through the air, tearing at flesh, shattering glass, and thudding into wood. Pandemonium ensued as everyone in the room scrambled to exit the doors and windows amidst terrified screams of “WITCH!” Four Rogues closest to the ogre collapsed, killed by the flying stones. An arrow bit into the ogre’s leg but did not prevent his war-hammer from cracking the skull of a fifth rogue who had jumped over the bodies of his fallen compatriots to reach the brute. The ogre turned toward the last two Rogues while the witch remained standing in place, her eyes rolled back into her skull. The boards of the Inn’s floor popped and bowed, then were ripped apart from below by the lifeless claws of the undead called forth by the blackest of magic. The only two remaining Rogues, who only seconds before were confident of an easy kill, now found themselves backing toward an exit hoping to escape with their lives, if not their sanity. The Rogue archer loosed an arrow that passed through the skull of one of the corpses before it was more than halfway free of the ground, causing the thing to slump backwards unnaturally. Two other corpses, little more than bones and some wisps of ancient hair on the skull, raced forward to join the ogre’s onslaught. A third corpse, fresher from the grave than the other two, shambled in through one of the windows next to the Rogues and swung a large rock at the head of the man with the sabre. The Rogue saw the thing in time and managed both to step and lean back to avoid the blow while countering with a quick slicing motion that removed the fiend’s head. He was unable, however, to move fast enough to avoid the charging ogre who used the mid-section of his hammer’s shaft as a ram, held horizontally before him with a massive hand at each end, and sent the Rogue sprawling to the floor before raising the weapon and delivering a blow of tremendous force. The last Rogue jumped onto the sill of the open window and turned to escape. The instant before he leapt to safety, two bony hands grasped his ankle, pulled him down to the floor, and wrapped around his throat. The ogre stepped forward, yanked the arrow from his leg and stood over this dénouement. He crossed his arms atop his war-hammer as if it were a cane of sorts, and looked down in some amusement as the hands of the dead squeezed the life out of the archer who could only stare back in horrified astonishment. The room lay in complete disarray, with tables and chairs broken and overturned, food scattered all about, and holes torn in the floor. The rogues all laid motionless, and the corpses raised up by the Witch had turned to dust. The Patrol were no longer anywhere to be seen.”
• Trouble brews at the Inn immediately, as the Ogre’s discussions with the Rogues turn loud and attract the attention of the Patrol. I just wanted to see what the Rogues had to sell. A handicap of the Ogre character is his poor relationships with most of the natives. But he is neutral with the Rogues, so I thought it was a good chance to see what they might have to sell. Unfortunately, I got a couple bad rolls on the Meeting table. I thought for sure I’d have to restart the game, because there was no way the Ogre was going to survive that fight without substantial help, and I am not accustomed to playing magic using characters and did not fully realize the power of the Witch’s spells. Round 1: Ogre lured all; only Rogues 1, 3, and 4 survive the Witch’s spell, no other hits. The Ogre would have hit his mark, but that Rogue dropped dead from stones. Round 2: Ogre crushes Rogue 1’s skull, Witch casts “Raise Dead” and summons two zombies and two skeletons (lucky roll!) Ogre did get an arrow in him from Rogue 4, but again a lucky roll of a 6 on the missile table means no damage to the Ogre. Round 3: The two remaining Rogues (3 and 4) are now frantically trying to execute a fighting withdrawal and escape the Inn as the four undead charge them. No hits. Round 4: Rogue 4 kills a zombie. Rogue 3 also kills a zombie, but is then smashed by the Ogre. Round 5: the last Rogue (Rogue 4, with the bow) is killed by a skeleton.
• The Witch’s familiar finds the Lost Castle in the Mountains to the southeast.
• Ogre swaps a few cards then draws the “Meet a Scholar” card which he plays immediately since the Scholar has come to the Inn.
Week 2, Soft Rain
• The Ogre and Witch scramble up the mountain and see the Lost Castle perched on the peak. A 6 monster roll brings 3 bats to their clearing (they’re hidden). One more 6 monster roll and they’ll have three more bats. The Ogre does have a quest card for finding the Lost Castle and Lost City, but with the possibility of having six bats in the tile, it’s too dangerous. They’ll pass.
• They move to the small campfire where they happen to meet one of the Ogre’s few friends: the Dragonmen. The Ogre talks a bit with them, and realizes they have the Black Book. He buys it for 30 gold.
• The Witch’s familiar, which has been creeping about the forests and is now up atop the Cliff, has found the Magic Guild. What’s great about that, is they will remove a curse for anyone who has joined. The Ogre and Witch will head there after the Ogre swaps out a few cards. Because that Lost Castle looks too dangerous with all the bats, I’ll drop the “Discover the Magic Realm” card that requires the character to discover both the Lost Castle and the Lost City.
• While parlaying at the small campfire, the Bashkars ride into camp. They might be friends with the Witch, but they heard there was an Ogre around and decided they’ll kill him if they found him . . . fortunately, he’s remained in the shadows.
Week 3, Soft Rain
• I am having terrible luck drawing cards for the Ogre. First got the card requiring me to kill, well, Ogres. Naw. Then got the card requiring me to get 100 fame. Naw. THEN got a card requiring me to go into the Lost City. Naw, don’t like caves. In the end he ends up with:
"Dark are the depths of man's soul, and that which lies therein is better left unmolested." So warned the wizened old man with his parting words just before his creaking bones lifted him from his stool and carried him, hobbling and haltingly, out the tent and into the damp, moonless night, wool cap pulled tight over his sparsely haired head. Before leaving, with his tongue loosened by a draught of strong cider, he had told of a scholar of exceptional intellect who was conducting research into the frailties of life itself, a physician whose obsession with helping those most in need led him to travel the lands following outbreaks of pestilence and plague, and who now sought to overcome the most basic of afflictions that weighs on all: mortality. To this end, the physician delved ever further into the mysteries of what constitutes life itself, and conducted such trials and tests as shall not be spoken of other than in the full light of day lest their mere utterance encourage the demons of darkness to creep out to this world in search of collegiality. What success this empiric has had, the old man would not say. Nor would he tell of the failures. The ogre cared nothing of these failures or successes, and spent little time pondering the reasons for the old man’s sharing such a story. The only reason the ogre tolerated the man’s ramblings was that this “plague doctor” seemed to have woven a scheme involving the desecration of those holy places held dear by the Order – and therein the ogre found much to pique his interest. They would test the old man’s words and at dawn begin the journey to the cliffs in search of this doctor.
• Because they have not yet found any dragon treasure sites, next quest will be “Plague Doctor”. This quest requires the character to meet the plague doctor, acquire a mount, then go to the Chapel and “exhume” some items for the plague doctor to use in further experiments. The characters need a plan to deal with the Order, who will be enemies, and if it takes more than one day to unearth enough items, undead will spawn. The characters need the mount to transport their foul booty back to the doctor. The plan will be first to activate that quest, then head to the magic guild and have the Witch study the Black Book, all the while keeping an eye out for either the Lair or the Hoard so that the Ogre can play the “The Dragon’s Treasure” card after completing the “Plague Doctor”. As luck would have it, the old man at the campfire told them the Plague Doctor was currently encamped near the Magic Guild.
• They enter the Dark Forest, and thanks to the Witch’s familiar they will easily be able to find a way back out. Many times a traveler will enter and be trapped until finally slaughtered by whatever fell beasts happen to lurk therein. And sure enough, as they search for some forgotten gold, an H dragon tromps over, but they have been careful, and the lizard does not see them. They ambush the thing and kill it.
Week 4, Warm
• Having found the 10 gold in the Dark Forest, they now move toward the Cliff where they will find the Magic Guild, allowing the Witch to study the Black Book, and to meet this Plague Doctor who presumably knows they are coming.
• On their way through the Curst Valley, to the lower area of the Cliff, they find the Fighter’s Guild. The Ogre wrestles a few of the members and earns his membership. Ah! The Guild has the Book of the Dead, another good one for the Witch, but they lack the gold with which to buy it. The Ogre’s wrestling prowess must have impressed the guild members, because they sold him a breastplate for just x2 price.
• As they approach the bottom of the cliff at day’s end, they find the Plague Doctor in clearing 5. They still need a horse or pony before going to the Chapel. There atop the cliff they see the Magic Guild. There are giant bats in the area, no doubt, so caution is in order. (Fortunately, the bats that had spawned back at the mountain went back to the setup card. In the Cliff, we have only the warning chit that will summon bats. Bottom line here: the first roll of a 6 will only summon one bat to our clearing.) They’ll attempt to find the hidden stairs to the top of the cliff. And wouldn’t you know it, first night there and a bat came. . . they fail their first few attempts at ambushing it. After a few days of dancing around with this thing, the Ogre nails it.
Week 5, High Summer, Rain
• They’ve wasted a lot of time with that bat and trying to find the stairs when the moon hits the rocks just right. The Ogre will play his “Hidden Path or Secret Passage Revealed” card to find the secret stairs up to the top of the Cliff. And bad luck, two more bats arrive. Round 1: The Witch loses patience and casts Stones Fly, but to no effect. This reveals her position to the bats and forces the Ogre to charge into the fray to save her. Round 2: The Witches fury empowers her black magic and she raises from the ground 8 skeletons. Ogre takes two wound and loses the breastplate he had just bought! Round 3: The skeletons rush forward free the Ogre from certain death. One of the skeletons lunges and pulls a bat from the air, biting into its neck and killing it. Two other skeletons are hit but amazingly remain standing. Round 4: Two skeletons wound the bat, one skeleton is destroyed. The Ogre is madly swinging his two-handed war-hammer to no effect. Round 5: The giant bat tears an arm from one of the skeletons but leaves it standing, as one of the two skeletons with weapons kills the winged beast with his rusty blade.
• Now at the Magic Guild, the Witch begins her studies. There will be time enough for healing later. After about a week, the Witch learns all four spells, only acquired one curse, and the three bats never showed up. The Witch pledges allegiance to the guild, and a powerful mage therein removes her curse (Witch joined the guild, opening the option to have a curse removed for 5 gold). Witch’s current spells:
Week 6, Showers
• The Witch’s familiar finds Kalar’s Tower in the Hidden Mines. We will need to avoid that tile. Way too many nasties creeping about, and an extremely difficult tile through which to travel even under the best of circumstances.
• The Witch’s familiar finds the Chaos Gate in the Ledges, and in the process becomes lost in the Minotaur’s Maze. They might have to go there to rescue it, not sure if it can find its own way out.
• The Witch and Ogre recover from their battles with the bats in the safety of the Curst Valley. Then move out to buy a horse, or better yet a pony from the Bashkars, with which to carry the remains to be unearthed at the graveyard by the Chapel.
• Though the pair took pains to move undetected, they were accosted by two Carrion Feeders in the Dark Forest. Round 1: Witch casts “Drain Life” but misses; Ogre fatigues one asterisk while avoiding the things’ mandibles. Round 2: Witch casts “Stones Fly” and hits both, but kills only hers. Round 3: Ogre kills his with a blow to the head.
• Ogre moves ahead to the camp, plays “You are Famous” to earn a second VP, then draws two more cards:
• The Witch then goes to the camp, and begins negotiating with the Bashkars for a pony.
Week 7, Rain
• The Witch’s familiar finally manages to find its way out of the Minotaur’s Maze.
• The Lancers arrive at the Campfire. They are unfriendly to the Witch, and sort of ruin the fun atmosphere.
• The Witch just realized that all their gold combined is still 1 gold short of the best price they’d get for a pony. An expedition to the Web in the Mountain to the south is in order. There they will find treasure with which to purchase a mount.
• The pair move up to the web on the side of the Mountain, the Ogre discovers it and begins looting. This activity draws the attention of a giant who meanders over. This first giant, unable to find the cause of the commotion he heard (Ogre and Witch are hiding), calls over his buddy. “Fi, fi, fo fum, I smell the blood of an . . . . Ogrish man!” The Ogre considered hiring them, but the two had such great luck looting the Web that there is little need to even stay on the Mountain. They might end up simply selling the Dragon Shield to the Bashkars at the Small Campfire, that would be the easiest thing to do. Some other quests require treasures sought by one of the various native groups, so they’ll hold on to the Timeless Jewel and Golden Crown for a little longer.
• The Ogre found:
• The Witch found:
Week 8, Warm
• Once the Ogre and Witch are back at the campfire, the Woodfolk arrive and, together with the Lancers, are making things quite tense. In fact, the Ogre had to sneak into camp to drop off the shield for the Witch to use in her bartering, and he would surely have been killed had he been discovered. All three native groups (Lancers, Woodfolk, and Bashkars) decided they wanted to battle him. As it turned out, the Witch was able to effectively trade the Dragon Shield for a pony and no blood was shed. When they were safely out of camp, the Witch passes the pony to the Ogre, who reluctantly agrees it’s better to keep it for the quest on hand rather than eat it for dinner. To the graveyard at the Chapel! The road does not look bad at all:
• Thanks to the Witch’s familiar, they know the dragon's prowling the caves of the Borderlands have driven out all else from the area. And dragons are something the Ogre Chieftain can handle. The duo will also need some gold with which to bribe the Order if they are discovered at the Chapel, so maybe they’ll sell the Golden Crown to the Guard . . . .
• They reach the Guard, and once again the Witch does the interacting with the natives, as she is on better terms with the Guard. They are neutral to her, while unfriendly to the Ogre. Moreover, the Patrol has arrived. They are enemies of the Ogre, and neutral to the Witch. After a day, she managed to sell it for, basically, 61 gold. Best of all, the Guard is now friendly toward her. Maybe she’ll buy a little armor for the Ogre while here.
Week 9, Swelter, Thunderstorms
• The Witch bought a breastplate for the Ogre for 21 gold, not too bad a price, and a helmet for 18 gold.
• Once again, on the way through the Dark Forest, a H dragon tracks them. They are hidden, and the ogre fails to ambush the lizard.
Week 10, Ball Lightning
The dark towering clouds blotted out the sun and rumbled with sudden tendrils of lightning that stabbed across the sky and occasionally pounded with a fury at the lone peak, seeming to exact requital against the earth itself for having the temerity to challenge the heavens, sending aloft rock and smoldering shards of trees. The torrential rains of the past week had subsided, but left in their wake a humidity that only intensified the heat and made all the more arduous the Ogre’s labor of pulling both a pony and an old hag up the uneven, wooded slopes. From their vantage point mid-way up, the Ogre and Witch saw atop the peak an area relatively clear of vegetation but for one tree that soared above all the rest, twisted and bent and ancient. Either by some great stroke of fortune or by some other darker means this tree itself incurred no wrath from the sky above, though the ground around it appeared particularly beaten. As the two paused a moment to consider their path forward and upward, the flashing clouds silhouetted a winged creature in the sky over the swamps to the south. The Ogre and Witch watched a moment, grimly and silently noting the thing seemed headed in their direction, its wingspan and girth appearing larger with every successive burst of lightning.
• Fortunately they have no mountains to cross over, because in this weather with all the lightning, those mountains are deadly. They just have that one peak to climb in the Descent tile.
• Once in the tile, they see the Harpy’s Tree is atop the lone peak. Up they go, with the help of the Timeless Jewel the Witch knew the Harpy would be there, but they went anyway, and the weather caused the Witch to fatigue three asterisks and the Ogre to fatigue two. But the Ogre does manage to kill the Harpy in an ambush. I am in a hurry to get to the Chapel and complete the quest, so no one stops to discover then loot the Tree. That can be done later. The next day, the Ogre and Witch continue toward the Chapel while the Witch’s familiar discovers the Tree.
• They come down from the peak into the swamp just west of the Chapel, where they recover from the heat and lightning, and soon thereafter realize they are being followed by two large, preternaturally clever alligators. The Ogre takes a swing at one but misses, and the two miscreants (the Gators, that is - not the Ogre and Witch) fade back into the swamp mist.
Week 11, Ball Lightning
• They arrive at the Chapel and wait for nightfall to begin their dark work in the graveyard by the old yew. Ha! All the while the Patrol have been hot on their trail, and appear at the Chapel. As if the Order weren’t bad enough.
• The Ogre works feverishly through the heat of the summer night, distant thunder rumbling down through the valley and lightning flashing shadows that writhe across the ground. I then have to choose one of four locations at which to meet the Plague Doctor once more, deliver the ill-gotten cargo, and end the quest. Despite the best efforts of the Witch’s familiar, only two of those locations have so far been revealed, so the Ogre and Witch don’t have a lot of choice - it’s not good for the chosen meeting place to be an as-yet-undiscovered location because then you have to travel all over the board to find it. However, it turns out one of the options for meeting the plague doctor and ending the quest is to go to the Stump. So, they can meet the Doctor at the stump of the old hangman’s tree, just down in the next valley, an easy walk from here!
• Before the coming of the dawn, a skeleton archer and skeleton swordsman force their way out of their sepulchral chambers and prowl the night for whoever disturbed their slumber, but the two grave-robbers are able to leave before they are found.
• The stump is just behind the House, and the Witch runs into some trouble with the Soldiers garrisoned there. It cost her 8 gold to keep from being burned at the stake. They then meet the Plague Doctor outside, by the stump, and deliver their rotting burden:
• The Ogre now has 9 VPs, and activates “The Dragon’s Treasure” quest which requires him to snatch a great treasure from a dragon’s stash.
Week 12, Thunderstorm
• The Lair has been found by the Witch’s familiar, in the Hidden Mines. It would be accessible by going under the High Pass then through the Maple Woods. I’d prefer not going into those Mines, but the Hoard has not yet been placed on the board and flailing around looking for a chit can be a waste of time. So first, the Ogre will head into the Pine Woods and spend a couple days trying to find an Archer companion (who will appear with the wolves . . .). Then, he’ll head into the mines, Witch in tow. Here’s the Ogre Chieftain’s current holdings:
Week 13, Harvest, Showers
• Since the Tree has already been discovered by the Witch’s familiar, and its guardian the Harpy already killed by the Ogre, it makes an enticing target. But, the swamps just to the south had two Gators. I thought it better to try and kill just those two now, rather than wait till even more crawled out of the muck and made this route of retreat too dangerous. So the Ogre and Witch stopped, hidden, in the same clearing with the Gators only to have a mass of tangled moss, cat-tails, and vines standing higher than the Ogre shamble over to the area. A Swamp Thing has also come to the clearing. Now this fight doesn’t look as enticing as it did before. So the Ogre and Witch move on.
• They scramble up the peak, taking some care to remain undetected by any watchful eyes, but their best efforts fail to prevent their being tracked by two Rat Men. The fight is on. Round 1: Both Ratmen hit the Ogre, but his armor protects him. The Witch kills one of them with her dagger. Round 2: Ratman and Ogre hit each other, no wounds. Round 3: Ratman again hits Ogre causing one wound and a damaged breastplate, and the Witch kills this one as well. There are two more Ratmen that could spawn, so for the next day the Ogre will have to hide, then rest, while the Witch loots the Tree.
• Ah! The Witch is hidden, but she drew the Ratmen to the clearing before the Ogre could do his first phase of the day and so, he is blocked before having had a chance to rest! Round 1: Ogre again lures both and ducks, as the Witch casts Stone Fly over his head, killing one Ratman. Round 2: Ogre and Witch both hit (former undercut, latter intercepted) and the Witch again got the kill! The Witch keeps getting the kills, while the Ogre serves as a meat-shield. The Ogre never properly rested from his arduous climb of that lone peak in the Descent tile a while back and now has accumulated the following festering wounds:
• The tile is now guaranteed free of monsters for the next two days, which makes the draw of easy loot irresistible.
• The Witch attempted to use her Ancient Telescope to look into a mountain clearing in the High Pass, but saw nothing.
• Day 7, and the Rat Men have regenerated back to the setup sheet and will be summoned again to the tile. Ooops, hate it when I think the tile is safe, then the monsters spawn again on day 7. Luckily, the Ogre managed to hide on his first phase (and luckily he took his turn before the Witch). The Witch, however, has been spotted. I thought it would be the Harpy in this tile that would be potentially hard to deal with. In any case, the Witch does not have Stones Fly available because two days earlier they took the calculated risk of continuing to loot the Tree rather than recuperate from their last encounter with the Rat Men. If the Witch attempts to run, but fails, she will almost surely be killed. If she will cast Raise Dead then the Ogre must lure, and he is already wounded and the Witch will have to risk summoning two enemy undead. Not any really good options here . . . So, here’s the plan: The Ogre will lure, and if the Witch summons undead beyond her control, in round 2 she will take responsibility for her failures and lure all, allowing the Ogre to flee. Here goes! Round 1: Witch casts Raise Dead and, egads, skeletons rise from the ground and they are not happy with the Witch. Not good . . . Both Rat Men hit the Ogre, destroying his breast plate and wounding him. Round 2: The Witch lures the Ratmen and Skeletons, allowing the Ogre Chieftain to flee with his life. The Witch, fairly certain her end is near, reaches into her cloak and calls upon the power of the Withered Claw, hoping to be teleported somewhere else. Unfortunately, she got “Wish for Health”. She then manages to dodge the poison knives of the two Rat Men but is hit by both Skeletons and suffers 7 wounds. Somehow she is still alive, but with few chits left. Round 3: Witch manages to cast “Raise Dead” one more time, using the Black Book as a chit, and hoping for help from the darkness. If she can summon four or more undead to help her, she can escape. But the words of her long dead mentor, “Do not raise up that which you cannot put down”, come to mind as she only manages to summon two MORE enemy skeletons. In this round she was then torn to shreds, her belongings ransacked by the Ratmen and her body left to the scavengers.
Week 14, Showers
• The Ogre Chieftain retreats to the Evil Valley to heal his wounds before going to the Pine Woods in search of an Archer companion. After a few day of seeing neither wolves nor an archer, it is time to move on.
Week 15, Warm
Through the Troll Tunnel beneath the mountains and into the woods beyond, the Ogre proceeded now unrestrained by the counsel of the Witch and driven by a lust for power and destruction. His objective was the lair of a dragon of tremendous size whose vast wealth was ensconced within the passages of mines long forgotten by man and his ilk. Those caverns were once alive with dwarves and gnomes laboring to pull objects of great beauty from the rocky heart of the earth, but since the Reckoning ages ago have fallen into a state of decrepitude abhorrent to all but the most vile of serpents, great and small, and to the giant bats that plague this land’s darker corners. The Ogre Chieftain would enter these dark halls, and take. He would take what treasure he desired, and take the lives of any that opposed him. The Witch’s visions had forewarned of danger. Lessor creatures might have been deterred from this venture, but the Ogre saw only opportunity to inflict pain and misery and to plunder.
For a day the Ogre hid amongst the charred and broken maple trees and crushed bushes whose proportion to healthy vegetation had grown as he approached the entrance to the mine until now, in the area worn and burnt by the frequent passing of the dragon, no living tree or plant could be seen. Having satisfied himself that the dragon did not presently lie within, the Ogre proceeded into the darkness. Cool, sulfuric air engulfed him as he followed the passage down. Hours of searching in the darkness with a make-shift torch as his only light, wedged down into the rocky floor and throwing wild shadows dancing among the dripping cones of stone that seemed to have frozen in mid-fall from the ceiling, in the end rewarded him with the discovery of the dragon’s lair in a great chamber not far from the mine’s entrance. The Ogre quickly set about sorting through the dragon’s accumulated wealth and found a shimmering cloak that, when donned, seemed to lighten his step and lessen the weight of this war-hammer. Further explorations of this subterranean trove were interrupted by the untimely arrival of its owner.
The dragon stopped as soon as it entered the chamber. Smoke puffed from its nostrils in angry snorts that echoed through the darkness. Its eyes blazed with indignation at the audacity of this small (in the eyes of the dragon) thief come like a coward to steal away its prized belongings, noting the cloak already thrown around the Ogre’s shoulders. The dragon stretched its neck forward and roared with a volume sufficient to make the rocks around them tremble. The Ogre, firmly holding his war-hammer crossed diagonally across his chest and shimmering slightly in the stolen garb, snarled and bared his own sharp fangs, bent his shoulders down, and charged. The dragon flew into a rage at this display of insolence and roared once again before sending a jet of flame erupting from its mouth, illuminating every corner of the cavern in a dazzling kaleidoscope of color and hitting the charging Ogre full on. Yet the Ogre Chieftain did not stop. Badly burnt and blinded in one eye, his battle cry now a thunderous growl, the Ogre swung his war-hammer with all his might at the astounded dragon who had nearly tripped over itself trying to move sideways to avoid the blow. The hammer pounded the dragon’s side and knocked it off balance for an instant, the Ogre fell to one knee in exhaustion, and a claw lashed out, pinning the Ogre to the ground. The dragon pressed down with all its weight onto the Ogre’s chest, preventing the Ogre from wielding his hammer, pushing the air from the intruder’s lungs, and threatening to crush every bone in his body. In a flash the Ogre drew his dagger and plunged it with both hands into the dragon’s claw, causing the dragon to loosen its grip just enough to allow him to roll free. Before the Ogre could muster the strength to stand again, the dragon’s razor tooth filled jaws shot forward. An instant before they closed on their prey, the Ogre from a supine position swung his war-hammer once again with the last of his remaining strength, screeching horribly as he did so, and impacted the dragon on the side of its skull with a sharp crack. The dragon stumbled to the side, then backwards, before collapsing to the ground, dead.
• Down into the tunnel beneath the High Pass. He encounters Vipers in the Maple Woods, just as he prepares to enter the Hidden Mines.
• The Ogre quickly discovers the Lair. He pulls the Garb of Speed from the dragon’s pile of treasure, but is soon thereafter set upon by its owner. With the Garb of Speed around his shoulders, he readies his War Hammer. Round 1: The Dragon roars a stream of fire that causes 6 wounds. The Ogre undercut but only managed to do H damage. Round 2: The dragon has flipped to its red side. With few chits left, the Ogre plays a T3** attack, hoping to nail the dragon before it kills him. If he gets an intercept, he’s sure to live. If he only undercuts, he might not kill it, and the dragon will surely kill him. SUCCESS! The Ogre manages to intercept the Dragon and kill it. That was close. And still the Ogre has not satisfied the requirements of the current quest: he must loot a great treasure, not merely a large treasure. The Ogre is pretty beat up at this point, and very likely cannot engage in another fight with any chance of success:
Week 16, Warm
• The sounds of the struggle with the dragon drew additional serpents from the dark crevices deep within the mines. Two H serpents come, while the Ogre continues desperately searching for that great treasure. No luck so far, and his attempt to ambush the serpents fails. The next day brings the T serpent to the clearing as well, and the Ogre fails his hide roll. No way to win this fight. He manages to run, but the only place to run TO is occupied by the Vipers in the Maple Woods. Caught between first and second base . . . .
The Ogre Chieftain limped through the woods, grimly aware he was being followed, though by who or what he did not know. After hours of walking, with the mid-day sun high in the clear sky above, he passed a brook and stopped for a brief draught. As he was kneeling down to drink in the cool water, the bright sun dappling through the trees shifted just enough to catch his attention. Without rising, and turning his head as little as possible in order to avoid betraying to the unseen enemy his cognizance of its approach, his one good eye scanned the forest around him. First he saw the two Vipers, approaching still slowly from different sides. In his current condition, still badly wounded from his battle with the dragon, blind in one eye, he knew this would be no easy fight. Then he saw, further in the distance, what he was certain was the slight bend of a bow and the movement of the wielder’s head among the forest’s undergrowth. So, he thought, this is the end. Death, having been cheated too many times by the Ogre’s great luck and strength, had come at last to collect its due. But the Ogre Chieftain yet would have a say in the terms of payment. To be slain here like a doe drinking from the brook was not his doom. With an unwavering eye on the bow, he quickly grabbed for his war-hammer, triggering an attack from the two vipers. He would close as fast as possible the distance with the archer, forcing him either to run or fight on the Ogre’s terms, and take a chance of being bitten by the vipers. Better to die like this, he thought. As he began to launch himself forward, he saw the arrow fly and knew he would feel its stinging bite at his throat in an instant – then he saw in his peripheral vision one of the Vipers seemed to leap up and back as the arrow cut clean through it. Still unsure of the archer’s intent but willing once more to bet against death, the Ogre leaped to the side, spun and with a downward sweeping motion crushed the second Viper at his heels. As the other man stood, the Ogre turned back towards him, paused, and grinned a one-eyed, fang-filled grin.
• So, having run away from the previous fight against the two H serpents and one T serpent in the Hidden Mines, the Ogre now enters, unhidden, the clearing in the Maple Woods that is already occupied by the two vipers. Again I thought he was a gonner, but then realized I could play the “Archer Companion” card. (I had forgotten that he can find the Archer here, with the vipers, as well as to the north with the wolves. If he survives this fight, he’ll return to the Tree and grab some of the treasures the Witch had. And, the Thieves Guild is here in the Maple Woods. He can pay the thieves to tell him what they know of the Mines (he can learn all the secret passages from the guild), then proceed through there to the Woods on the other side of the High Pass where he can possibly hire a couple Ogres. Round 1: Ogre plays his T3** fight chit and doesn’t even bother playing a move. Both the Ogre and the Archer kill a viper.
• Ogre fully rests in the Maple Woods
Week 17, Autumn, Autumn Summer
• While passing through the Pine Woods on the way to the Harpy Tree, the Ogre captured the Homunculus. It is a source of Black Magic, and I think if the Ogre can find the Black Book that the Witch once had, he can then flip tiles.
• The Ogre and Archer climb the peak to the Harpy Tree, staying under cover. The two Rat Men who weeks before killed the Witch remain there. Round 1: The Ogre leads an ambush by charging forward and smashing one of the Rat Men off the ledge. Round 2: Rat Man manages to nick the Archer, and only took a grazing shot from the bow in return. The Ogre missed. Round 3: Archer got a bulls-eye and killed the remaining Rat Man.
• Two days of searching for the Witch’s treasures, which the Rat Men hid amongst the rocks and great roots of the Tree, resulted in the Ogre finding the Timeless Jewel (and the Pony). The former will help immensely.
Week 18, Cool
• The Harpy appeared, but the Ogre foresaw its coming and made sure to hide. He ambushed it, and killed it. The approach of two Rat Men was also foreseen. Archer killed both. The tile is now safe for a couple days. The Ogre has recovered what he needed:
• And with delight, the brute realizes he can use the Black Book and the captured Homunculus to flip tiles.
Week 19, Autumn Summer
• The Ogre, due to his familiarity with the woods, had little problem finding the Thieves Guild hidden amongst the brilliant leaves. But, I just realized, the Thieves won’t help unless you join their guild, and the Ogre has already joined the Fighters guild. So, no help there.
Week 20, Cold Rain
• Into the Mines they go. After days of searching, with their activity rousing two flying dragons, a walking dragon, and a giant bat from sleep (though nothing came to their clearing), FINALLY the Ogre found a Great Treasure to complete the final quest. They also, incidentally, found the Ghost Armor.