Thursday, August 31, 2006

525: Sir Guy in The Adventure of the Hawthorne Branches

The Adventure of the Hawthorne Branches

The scenario to hand was set in 525, and related the PC knights journeying to Sussex for the knighting ceremony of the Duke's son. There was some backstory about the son having been stolen by fairies a few years ago, and having just been miraculously returned. In all honesty, I started feeling like I'd come in in the middle of a Fellini movie, and was having trouble keeping all of the NPCs straight. It didn't affect play however, so that was good.

The players were myself, Greg as Sir Clydno, and his wife Suzanne playing both Sir Monroe, and Sir Treantly, all Cymric knights from Salisbury.

We were all welcomed by the Duke in a grand ceremony which opened the tournament. Early on, we heard a mournful horn blast from deep in the Forest Sauvage nearby. We assumed it was a lone hunter, or perhaps a knight who was late for the tournament and thought nothing of it. Opening ceremonies began, including the blessing of the Duke's son (in whose honor this tournament was being held). Of note, when the youth was being offered communion, he winced visibly upon drinking the wine offered by the priest.

As the tournament began, Sir Clydno sang a song in honor of the event, which was well-received (critical success, as I recall) and Clydno was gifted with an extremely nice cloak by the Duke. That night was the first night of feasting. My character, Sir Guy (there's a rather obtuse Excalibur reference there, which I'll let you all scratch your heads over) tried to remain sober for the evening, but failed his "Temperate" roll, and then succeded in his "Indulgent" roll, and ended up getting drunk beyond belief.

The next morning, we awoke to discover that Clydno's fancy cloak had been stolen. There was a hunt that day and we debated at length what we should do about this. Clydno had planned to wear the cloak and ride up next to the Duke (as well as King Arthur, who was attending the tournament!) to score some points. We spent some time looking for the cloak, and turned up nothing. In the end we decided to form a hunting party of our own and avoided the Duke until we could figure out what had happened with the cloak.

We used the simple hunting system from the first scenario in the PD 5e. Rules appendix. It was actually quite exciting, making hunting and horsemanship rolls, jockeying for position and trying to track down the deer whose spoor we had found. Clydno found it first and gave it a few solid whacks, before it ran away. Soon after, Sir Guy rode up and l managed to land the killing blow and scoring the whopping 1 Glory for the hunt! Whoo! I was off to a great start!

That evening, more feasting and drinking, and again Sir Guy managed to fail to keep his cool, and got drunk again. Clydno was obsessed with finding the scoundrel who stole his cloak, and spent the evening looking around to find the churl. Treantly assisted and did manage to spot the thief! The knave not only had clearly stolen Clydno's cloak, but was gauche enough to be wearing it to the festivities (Treantly fumbled his "Awareness" roll). Treantly ponted this out to Clydno who agreed that the cloak was his (Clydno as well fumbled his Awareness roll… astounding…)

Clydno's honor had been slighted, and he went to the knight wearing his cloak (who I believe was Sir Trimball of Kent) and challenged him to personal combat to take place the next day during the fighting portion of the tournament. Treantly goaded him on during this whole exchange. Trimball was understandably confused, especially when Clydno demanded that 'we fight for our cloaks!' But not wanting to lose face, Trimball accepted the challenge.

So, Guy staggered off in a drunken stupor and the evening ended. (At one of these evening events, either Clydno or Treantly composed a poem in honor of Queen Guenever, which went over quite well, but I can't remember exactly how that happened)

The next day was the combat round of the tournament. Guy was unhorsed during his first bout of jousting, while Clydno lasted three rounds. Treantly went nearly 6 or 7 rounds before losing his seat.

Sorry, but I cannot recall who the winner of the joust was.

At this point, the personal combat between Clydno and Trimball took place. They began with a round of jousting in which Clydno knocked Trimball off his horse in one round. As Trimball hit the ground, Clydno wheeled about and ran him down, attempting to trample the unseated knight. Clydno's horse's hooves beat Trimball mercilessly, for which the GM decided to give Clydno an automatic check in his Vengeful trait.

At this point, Clydno demanded Trimball's surrender. Trimball at first refused to admit any wrongdoing, but discretion being the better part of valor, forfeited the round, and offered his cloak to Clydno…

At which point, Clydno realized that he had indeed, mistaken the cloak, and that Trimball was not the thief. He attempted to apologize and make amends, but Trimball would have none of it.

In the evening, again feasting, and Sir Guy getting drunk (seriously, I had a Temperate of 13, but just failed every time I rolled against it! Arrrgh!)

The next day saw more jousting. Specifically the Duke's son (again, the tournament was in his honor) was then challenged by the Black Knight. Which is never a good sign.

Their horses charged each other across the field, gaining ground and speeding faster and faster. Sir Guy, being remotely awesome managed to make his "Awareness" roll, thus noticing the Black Knight slightly adjusting his lance and aiming for a head shot on the Duke's son. The Black Knight's lance slammed into the boy's helmet, unhorsing him and knocking him to the ground.

And then the scene shifted, and we were back at the opening ceremony of the tournament… we'd shifted back three days or so. We heard the speech, the mournful horn and everything started over again.

Scene by scene the events we'd played through unfolded again before us. We still did have free will, and this time Clydno decided not to compose his poem, and win the cloak, thus avoiding the embarassment of the previous days.

We catapulted through the tournament, battle, etc. again, until the joust between the Black Knight and the Duke's son began, and ended the same way. And as the boy hit the ground, the scene shifted and we were back at the beginning again.

We heard the speech, the horn, and at this point Clydno, Guy, Treantly and Monroe charged off into the woods to try and track down the source of the horn. (We had reason to do this, but I can't quite recall how we came up with the idea that the horn was important.)

So, in the woods we came across a river with a bridge across it. There was a pavillion in front of the bridge, flying the banner of a knight that I could not identify (with a critical success in Recognize). As we approached the tent, we were greeted by a herald wearing an oddly colorful outfit. He informed us that this bridge was the province of a knight who we must best in a jousting contest before we could pass. Shortly thereafter the knight appeared. The knight was obviously a faerie of some sort. Shorter than us, and wearing shimmering aluminum armor.

As I was the 'lesser knight' I was allowed to joust the Faerie first, and was unceremoniously knocked flat on my ass. Clydno went next, and finally either Treantly or Monroe trounced the knight, allowing us to pass. Crossing the bridge, we came to a lake, at the far side of which was a fey enchantress, Lady Auriale as well as the Great Beast of the Forest Sauvage (the Great Beast is apparently a magical elephany with a proclivity for pointind directions with his trunk…)

Lady Auriale explained to us that while the Duke's son was living in Faerie, she was his nursemaid. She knew the Back Knight was trying to kill him and was using her powers to assure his safetey. She had apparently called us to the forest to help in this goal. She instructed us to ride to a nearby glade, and there find a hawthorne tree. We were to take four boughs from the tree, and make haste back to the tournament where we would put one branch at each corner of the tournament field.

As we were RPG PCs, and we know how these things turn out, each of the four knights hacked off four branches from the tree, and raced back to the jousting field.

We arrived just as the tilt began, quickly placing the branches at the corners as instructed. As the knights were about to impact, we placed the fourth branch. As this happened, the Black Knight slumped in his saddle, and was knocked off his horse by the young knight. As the Black Knight hit the ground, his armor fell apart, and we discovered that inside was nothing but the straw effigy of a person.

The youth was safe, all around cursed wicked fairy magic, and thus ended the Adventure of the Hawthorne Branches.

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