Ragan’s Tale, Part 2

You can read Part 1 of Ragan’s Tale by clicking this link.

Quick recap: The Mythic GM Emulator Deck, the Fantasy GM Apprentice Deck, and I are going to play a fantasy adventure game using HARP with a religiously motivated character. Following an attack on his home village, Ragan engaged a Goblin with his bow. With the Goblin down, Ragan is ready to go help his fellow villagers.

His first thought was for the Temple. Ragan’s responsibility was to get to the shrine to Leilani and recover the Sacred Arc. While he was also concerned with the artifacts to the other two deities, it was his particular responsibility – as the only serving Cleric of Leilani, the least popular of the Three Dreamweavers – to ensure the continuation of the faith. Looking up towards the high wooden structure that marked the location of the village Temple, Ragan could see that the many dozens of Goblins were steadily converging on that location.

Is there a clear path to the Temple? Seems very unlikely but the Chaos Factor 4 makes it Impossible. Drawing 4 cards and needing all Yes… draws Yes… Exceptional Yes… Yes… No. Dang! What’s the obstruction? I could simply have more fights but decide to consult the Mythic Oracle. Draw two cards, one for an Action and the other for a Subject… Postpone Friendship. Maybe Ragan needs to put aside his love of kin if he is to stand any chance of getting to the Temple.

Ragan slung in his backpack, picked up his spear, and sprinted out of cover towards the nearest step way up into the tree houses. As he cleared the open ground and reached the steps, he was immediately struck by the brutality of the raider’s tactics. Warriors had died here, defending the base of the tree steps, but the Goblins had taken time to slit the throats of the injured. Men and women alike, all had been murdered once they fell.

Reaching the first platform, Ragan could see that it would be futile to simply try to fight through the Goblins to the Temple. He needed another way. Looking up he could see a rope hanging from a higher platform above – a common sight in the village used to swing between platforms or shimmy up higher, both being activities the children enjoyed. Weapons would be no use in this, so he slipped off his backpack and stowed the weapons near the base of the tree. Stepping to the rope, Ragan tugged on it to check it was still firm and then began to climb.

Time is of the essence here so I am going to set up a dice timer. Because HARP uses d10s and d100 rolls, I will make the dice d10s. What will be the difficulty of the timer? I draw from the GM Apprentice Deck using the Difficulty entry (which rates from 1-10), drawing… 7. I decide that there will be 5 minutes between timer rolls and 4 dice in the timer pool. Thus, when we check the timer we roll the remaining dice and any that come up 7 or higher will expire; at zero dice, the Temple will be breached.

Ragan needs to climb up to the Temple level, then swing across to the Temple platform, and then run to the shrine. We begin with his climb and use the Percentage column on the Maneuver Table: he has +16 to climbing and I think he is used to this so it’s a Medium (+0) difficulty. Rolls… 90 + 16 = 106 = 100%.

Ragan shimmied up the rope quickly, adept even under the pressure of the moment. He was never too accomplished at climbing but perhaps the adrenaline of the situation had helped him focus. Perhaps the Lady was with him in this quest for the Sacred Arc. Five minutes later, he reached out for the edge of the wooden platform and pulled himself atop.

Roll the timer… 4d10… 2 dice drop. Crap!

Now at the highest level, Ragan stopped for a moment to catch his breath. He could see the Goblins were close now to the Temple courtyards and his friends were losing the battle. Fire leaped from structure to structure below and neared the sacred space, lapping at the trunks of the trees. He took a deep breath, trying not to inhale the smoke, and exhaled purposefully. Then, walking to the far edge of the platform, Ragan grabbed the next rope with the intention of swinging to the Temple itself. This would be a stretch, he knew it, but it was vital that he succeed.

Let’s make this a Hard (-20) Acrobatics check. Ragan is -21 with this skill, however, so it’s going to be unlikely he’ll succeed. This is an all-or-nothing maneuver… rolls 79 – 41 = a fail.

Ragan’s swing was far short of the platform and he dangled loosely for a moment before momentum placed him back near to his starting point. He clambered back to safety and glanced around, his confidence a little shaken.

Roll the Timer: 2d10… no time lost!

‘Now what,’ Ragan asked himself. Looking up, he could see the tree branches grew over the top of the Temple platform. Perhaps if he climbed along the branches, he could drop down from above. He determined to try.

Ragan’s climbing skill is +16 and I think tree climbing is Medium (+0) for him. We’ll test his progress every 5 minutes. The first roll… 21 + 16 = 37 = 30%

The first part was slow going because there weren’t many branches to get to. He had to shimmy up the trunk and then reach out to a distant but fairly sturdy branch, hauling himself up onto it and finding his balance. This took perhaps five minutes while the fires burned below and the warriors defending the Temple battled on.

Timer… 2d10, one dice drops. Ragan continues his climb… 68 + 16 = 84 = +80%. I rule he makes it (30+80 = 110) with time to spare to jump down

Running along the think tree branch, Ragan quickly reached the spot where he needed to crouch and pick his way more carefully. As he focused on his balance, it was as if calm entered his mind and all the discipline of meditation paid off. It didn’t take long before he was above the open-topped centre of the Temple and Ragan wasted no time in dropping himself down. It was only as he reached the edge that his nerves caught up to him and he felt a second pang of fear. He hesitated.

Jumping is going to be suicidal. Is there a rope anywhere nearby? Seems unlikely… needs 3 cards, all yes… draws Yes, Yes, Yes but there is a random event too. Drawing two cards, we read Arrive Allies. Nice!

It was weird, Ragan thought, but he never knew there was a rope up here. Tied around the branch and looped up so that it was out of reach from below, nonetheless there it was. He unloosed the rope, let it drop down, and began to climb. As he did so, two of his friends burst into the Temple from the far side – away from the battle – just in time to see him emerge from above.

Testing Ragan’s climbing going down is Light (+20) difficulty. Rolls… 21 + 16 + 20 = 57 = 50% of the way before the timer clicks. Rolls 1d10 timer… 5 is no change. Rolls climbing again… 32 + 16 + 20 = 68 = 60%. The timer… a 7.

Shimmying down the rope, Ragan was halfway down before his friends noticed him. But then the rope began to swing and he needed to steady himself. Completing the climb down took a few minutes but when he reached the bottom, his compatriots could see that the last line of village defenders was about to fall. Weaponless, Ragan shouted to his friends: “I need to get the Sacred Arc! Can you hold them?”

I think it would be really cool if his two friends are each followers of one of the other two deities in this religion. I think it’d be really cool if they were also here for their respective artifacts from the Temple. Is one of them a warrior? Seems likely that a religious faith would have a militant arm… draws a Yes. I draw a name from the Apprentice Deck… Bakari. Sounds male and I’ll make a note to go build a Fighter. I am open to the other character’s profession, so I decide to roll 1d10 against the list of nine professions in HARP (I’ll choose on a 10)… rolled a 4. Mage. Name? Eshe. A woman. Time to go and create those characters because I feel like it’d been cool to form a ‘party’.

At The Temple Of Three Dreams

Weaponless, Ragan shouted to his friends: “I need to get the Sacred Arc! Can you hold them?”
Bakari nodded and drew his long sword, bringing his shield down in front of him. Eshe smiled and gestured a thumbs up as she stepped in behind Bakari and began to speak words of magic. Seeing his friends were going to try and buy him some time, Ragan ran for the shrine as the Goblins swarmed up the last steps to the platform.

Need to discover what the party is going to be facing as the Goblins break through. Is there a Hobgoblin leader? Seems likely, need to draw any Yes on one card… draws Yes. Goblins are encountered in groups but they’ve taken casualties. How many? Roll 1d10… 2. Ok, so only three creatures to deal with immedietely. Could have been much worse. Goblins are 2d10 feet away from Bakari… rolls 15 feet. Each shrine is 2d10x3 feet from the centre of the platform… rolled 13 x 3 = 39 feet. Rolling initiative… Hobgob 24, Bakari 23, Ragan 23, Eshe 20.

The Goblins cautiously advance 6 feet towards Bakari, spears and shields readied. The Hobgoblin stays behind his cohort, shield and axe in hand.

As Bakari is ready to defend, he stands fast with shield and sword to the ready. Behind him, Ragan dashes to the shrine and reaches the altar. Meanwhile, Eshe begins to cast a protective spell upon herself.

We roll to cast Mage Armour at +33. Rolls… 53 + 33 = 86 = normal success. Eshe gains +20 Defensive Bonus and shines in a 2 feet radius of light.

As the incantation completes, Eshe is bathed in white light and her clothing shimmers as if with great power.

Initiative: Bakari 26, Ragan 24, Eshe 21, Goblins 15

Bakari figures that, with the Goblins 9 feet away, he needs to hold fast and let the Goblins come to him. He holds fast in the hope that Ragan can rescue the artefacts from the shrine while the Goblins hesitate.

Ragan stands before the altar to Leilani and gazes down upon the Sacred Arc, a stylised silver crescent depicting the moon. Reaching forward he lifts it from the shrine and says a quick prayer to the Moon Queen, asking for her protection.

Eshe begins a new incantation and points to the lead Goblin advancing towards her and Bakari.

Casting an Attack Spell, she will test her ability against the Goblin’s Magic Resistance. She scales the spell to Increase Damage, costing 3 extra Power Points (total 6). Rolls 62 + 43 = 105 = 120 on the Resistance Roll table. The Goblins rolls 30 + 46 = 76 and fails. We roll 2d10 for damage, rolling 13.

A bolt of blazing magical energy leaps from Eshe’s hand and strikes the Goblin, engulfing him and causing him to groan with the pain of impact.

I am imagining magical displays to be relatively rare in this world, so I wonder: Does the magic scare the Goblins? Seems like 50/50 chance, but with Chaos Factor at 4 needs both cards to be Yes. Draws… Yes… and Yes. The Goblins will hesitate.

Seeing his companion, already covered in blood and breathing heavily from the long fight up the stairs, struck by witchfire causes the Goblin to stand fast. His companion likewise hesitates and both glance backwards towards their Hobgoblin leader. With a snarl, the Hobgoblin shouts out in the Common Tongue, “Your dark powers will not stop the destruction of your village, Witch!”

Initiative: Bakari 23, Ragan 23, Eshe 20, Goblins 16

Bakari grins over his shield and says, “I think you rattled the big one, Eshe.”

Ragan slides the Arc into his belt and begins to walk towards the shrine of Noelani. His attention is now on recovering the sacred Book of Revelation.

Eshe lowers her spear and steps up alongside Bakari, ready to hold the line.

The Goblins advance at a walk, moving 6 feet closer with shields raised and spears lowered. The Hobgoblin shifts leftward slightly with his sword and shield in hand.

Initiative: Bakari 26, Eshe 23, Goblins 22, Ragan 20

With just 3 feet between him and the Goblins, Bakari decides to take the fight to them. He steps up and attacks, swinging his long sword in a long arc towards the injured Goblin to his right. The blade connects with the creature’s leg muscle and opens a long gash that starts to bleed. The Goblins grunts with the pain and loses its focus.

Eshe steps alongside her friend and pokes her spear determinedly at the left hand Goblin. She lands a cheap shot to the shin and notes the creature’s snarl as it knocks her blade away downward.

The Goblin facing Bakari is clearly distracted by the pain but Eshe’s foe stabs at her with its spear. The strike easily slides past her spear shaft and buries itself in her side, ripping free in spite of the magical aura surrounding her. Blood oozes out as Eshe cries out with the pain. The Hobgoblin moves swiftly to Eshe’s left and closes with her, ready to attack.

Ragan runs to the altar of Loelani and grabs up the tome sitting on the stand, stuffing it under his arm.

Initiative: Eshe 23, Ragan 21, Goblins 19, Bakari 18

Eshe feels the blood oozing from her wound and determines to sell her life as dearly as she can. She thrusts her spear at the Goblin as she turns partially towards the Hobgoblin. The spear strikes past the Goblin’s shield and cuts a messy but effective cut across its neck. The wound begins to bleed and Eshe feels a satisfaction in perhaps levelling the field.

Ragan runs across behind the fight and reaches the shrine to Roshan, Goddess of Good Dreams. There upon the altar sits the Draketooth Dagger, sacred blade of the Rohan’s Watchers. He takes the blade in hand, hoping he won’t have to use it in combat.

The Goblins both appear stunned and don’t press the fight, but the Hobgoblins slashes his shortsword towards Eshe in a long arc. The blade gashes deep into her arm muscle and draws blood. Eshe yelps in pain as she begins to fall, passing out from the pain. The Hobgoblin shouts in triumph at his success!

Bakari sees his companion fall and desperately slashes out towards his Goblin opponent. The gory strike exposes the creature’s leg muscles and sends the Goblin reeling in shock.

Initiative: Bakari 21, Ragan 20, Goblins 19

Bakari turns to the second Goblin and strikes towards it with the longsword. The slash slips under the shield and opens a vein. Blood sprays out as the Goblin staggers back a couple of steps, screaming in pain. The warrior looks towards the Hobgoblin and says, “You’re next.”

Ragan makes no hesitation and sprints towards the Hobgoblin, vengeance on his mind and the dagger in hand.

Does the Hobgoblin target Bakari (odds) or Ragan (evens)? Rolls 1d10… 7 = Bakari.

If the Hobgoblin even noticed Ragan’s approach was unclear, but he turned his attention on Bakari. Stepping in, the short sword stabbed out towards the man’s belly and struck a gash across his abdomen, sliding neatly under the shield. The blade didn’t penetrate the chainmail, however, and Bakari merely grunted with the pain. The Goblins stood their ground, still stunned and disoriented from their wounds.

Initiative: Ragan, 22, Bakari 20, Goblins 16

Ragan stabbed from behind the Hobgoblin with the Draketooth Dagger, uncertain as it was in his hands. His untrained attack went wide, however, and he was left momentarily off-balance.

Bakari pressed his attack, slashing out with the sword aiming for the Hobgoblin’s head. The blade bonked off the creature’s helm, merely distracting it for a second.

The Goblin with the open vein staggered ineffectually as the blood flowed from its wounds, growing paler and looking around disbelievingly. The other Goblin drew himself together, raising his shield and turning to advance upon Bakari. Meanwhile, the Hobgoblin made another swing at the warrior with its shortsword. The blade was deflected by Bakari’s shield, slightly nicking his wrist just above the glove.

Initiative: Bakari 22, Ragan 18, Goblins 15

Bakari remembered his training and, seeing that he could not easily penetrate the Hobgoblin’s defences, decided to try and disarm him. Sliding the long blade up under the shortsword, Bakari flicked his wrist and… the Hobgoblin lost his grip, the shortsword spinning out of control 1 foot away to Ragan’s left.

Ragan grinned and stepped on the blade before shouting, “You are doomed, creature! Surrender!”

At this moment, the Goblin with the opened vein collapsed with a clatter, apparently unconscious. The other Goblin tried to stab at Bakari from the side, puncturing his forearm as the blade slipped behind the shield. The man felt the warm ooze of blood from the wound.

Does the Hobgoblin surrender? Will Resistance roll, methinks. I decide to pitch Ragan’s Leadership skill against the creature’s Will. Rolling for Ragan, I reckon having the creature’s sword under foot and the dagger in hand would help – I give a +20 to Ragan’s attempt. Rolls… 61 + 11 + 20 = 92 = 110 for the Hobgoblin to resist. Rolling… 72 + 39 = 111. Feck!

Snarling in defiance the Hobgoblin smashes the target shield up into Bakari’s face but the human sidesteps it and deflects it with his own shield.

Initiative: Bakari 25, Goblins 21, Ragan 16

Bakari moves quickly, bringing his sword and shield up together as he rushes into the Hobgoblin. The creature is caught off guard and thrown backwards, landing on his back with a grunt. Bakari brings his sword down to the creature’s throat with a yell.

The Goblin behind Bakari succumbs to his bleeding and stumbles, then falls down unconscious. The Hobgoblin on his back drops his shield and raises his gloved hands in surrender.

Ragan smiles and kicks the short sword out over the edge of the platform as he asks, “Shall we get out of here?”

Scene ends in character’s favour: Chaos Factor 3

Bakari binds the Hobgoblin’s hands with its own belt while Ragan tends to Eshe. First, Ragan tears a strip from her cloak and uses it to bind the bleeding wounds she has sustained. After a minute or two of work, feeling satisfied that the bleeding has been staunched, Ragan closes his eyes and focuses to call upon the power of the Goddess. He asks the Moon Queen to heal his friend and restore her to consciousness. A silvery glow emanates from his hand and spreads across Eshe’s body. She gasps weakly and her eyes flutter open.

Helping her to her feet, Ragan knew that Eshe was weak. She could barely walk and he needed to support her as they moved back towards the stairway the friends had used to get here.
“We can’t tarry long,” said Bakari.

Ragan nodded, “No, but I need to get back to my gear. I stashed it by a tree near the south side of the village.”

Sounds of battle still filled the night air and smoke was everywhere.

“You need to go, Ragan. Eshe needs care and the Goblins will likely kill us all if we try to fight our way out.”

“Let’s see. I don’t like the idea of leaving you behind but, yes, I agree we need to get these artefacts out of the village.”

Does the party meet more raiders on the way down? Seems like it has to be but CF 3 means any Yes on three cards will determine it. Draws… Exceptional Yes.

As they moved down the stairway, they could hear a large force of Goblins moving towards them. This was too much for Ragan. With a sorrowful look into Bakari’s eyes, he handed Eshe to his friend.

“Surrender and hope they take you as prisoners.”
Bakari nodded, sheathing his sword and slinging his shield as he took Eshe into his arms. The warrior sat with her in his arms as Ragan stowed the dagger in his belt alongside the Arc and reached out for a nearby rope. As he slid downwards, tears streamed down his sweat-streaked face.

Scene. Chaos Factor increases to 4. Scene set up is as expected. Does Ragan find his gear? Seems likely. Needs any Yes… draws one card… Yes.

At the bottom of the trees, Ragan used the smoke and confusion to slip back to his backpack. Stowing the artefacts, he then gathered his bow and spear before heading back towards the forest, southward. He would return to the sacred clearing and then decide how to act.

Stalking & Hiding gives him an RR of 90 for sentries to beat. I test them and roll 25 + 35 = 60 = fail.

The journey back to the grove was slower and Ragan felt the loss of his friends deeply. What was he to do? He could not risk the artefacts but at the same time he desperately wanted to help his friends, perhaps to attempt a rescue. He decided to begin with prayer.

Gathering his stuff, Ragan placed them in front of him and took out the Sacred Arc. Focusing upon the silvery moon he looked up to the full moon visible between the trees.
“Sacred Mother,” he whispered, “Hear my prayer.”

Ragan began the Ritual of Dreams, invoking the power of the Goddess to grant him a meaningful dream upon any single topic he chose to enquire upon. At the appropriate time, he asked the Moon Queen a simple question: “What should I do next?”

When the ritual was complete, Ragan unrolled his bedroll and lay down to sleep. Exhausted and filled with the peace of the Goddess, it didn’t take long before he fell into a deep sleep.

Ragan’s spell was successful. To give us a clue, I draw two cards from the Mythic Deck. This seems appropriate as the ritual is supposed to give highly symbolic imagery. Draws… Proceedings Release.

What a great place to leave things hanging!

Game on!

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