King Andy called Roman Dragonshield and Els to his throne room. When they arrived he introduced them to a bedraggled looking man called Old Oleg. Oleg had come from a small village near Owl Wood. A giant boar – the Caledonian Boar – was rampaging through the area, knocking down trees and breaking things. The people needed help. But that wasn’t all. It was nearly King Andy’s birthday, and he thought the boar would make a great present.
“Els and Roman – can you bring me back the boar? In time for my birthday?”
Our heroes said that they could, and set off in the direction Old Oleg indicated.
First they came to a river crossing next to a village. Since there was nobody around Els and Roman crossed the river and headed toward Owl Wood. Oleg had told them the boar was probably in Owl Wood. But Owl Wood was home to the fairies, and sometimes people went into the wood and never came out.
Our heroes had barely entered Owl Wood when they came to a shallow stream. There was an old woman on the side closest to them.
“Hey you” she shouted “Carry me over this stream.”
Our heroes looked confused
“Look! You’re heroes aren’t you. Carry me over the stream!”
She poked Roman Dragonshield with her stick
“You look big and strong. Get me over this stream. Honestly, heroes are supposed to help people. Not stand around. Pick me up.”
Eventually Roman Dragonshield decided to pick her up. And doing his best to ignore the stream of complaints about how he was carrying her, took her safely to the other side.
[Roman rolls strength, succeeds easily.]
At which point the old Lady walked back across the stream by herself and into the forest, leaving Roman and Els even more confused.
Five minutes after this happened they came across a well. Next to the well was the same old woman.
“Oi You!” she yelled. “I’ve lost my bracelet in this well. Someone needs to climb down and get it for me!”
Els inspected the well. It was dark, and smelly. Full of spiders and snails, and smelling of poo.
“You’ll have to fish about down there with your hands. It’s just a simple leather thing.”
Said the woman. “Go on. Now get it for me!”
Eventually Els decided to climb down and retrieve it. The well is smelly and horrible, but she does eventually locate the bracelet.
[Els rolls climbing and finding things, succeeds on both]
A somewhat smelly Els pulls herself out of the well and returns the bracelet.
“Ugh. It’s all smelly now. I don’t want it anymore.” says the woman, and walks into the forest.
Still confused about what is going on Els and Roman get back to trying to find the boar, or some fairies, or some tracks. They haven’t gone far when they find…
An old woman, with one lag trapped under a falled tree. “Hey you!” she shouts “Lift this tree off me, right now!”. Well Els and Roman have nearly had it with this old woman, who continues to moan at them from under the log while they wonder what to do. Eventually Roman lifts it off her.
“And about time too!” she mutters. Looking no more grateful than on the other occasions.
And then a funny thing happens. She gets smaller, and smaller. Until her clothes are lying on the ground in a pile, and something small and wriggly is underneath. A few moments later a fairy clambers out from the clothes and flutters up to head height.
“Well done you two” she smiles “I can see you’re both nice enough that I can let you stay in the woods.”
The fairy explains that her name is Millicent, and that it’s her role to test people who come into the woods to make sure they’re nice.
“What would have happened if you didn’t like us?” asks Els
“Oh, you’d have probably been stuck wondering around the woods forever.” says Millicent, before asking how she can help them.
Roman and Els explain what they’re looking for, and why. Millicent agrees that the boar is a problem, but isn’t too keen on the idea of King Andy adding it to his zoo. Still, she tells them it was last seen on the far side of the woods near Bigfoot Mountain. And, she warns them, before she met them she spoke to a fox who said he’d heard noisy creatures tramping around the edge of the wood in the night. Millicent also tells them that if they ever come back they should say her name three times at the edge of the wood, and she’ll come to help them.
Els and Roman thank her for the information, and set off again. This time, on the northern edge of Owl woods they do find tracks. But not boar tracks. These are big footsteps, and it looks like they’ve been dragging something heavy.
[Els rolls Finding Things, and succeeds]
They follow the tracks to the base of Bigfoot Mountain, where they disappear into the cliff face. Els looks around for a clue and spots that there’s a door carved into the mountain, with strange symbols all around it. But there’s no handle, and no way to open it.
[Els rolls Finding Things, and succeeds again]
Roman and Els discuss what to do next. Els decides that the obvious place for a clue to open the magic door would be on top of the mountain – and they set off to look. After a lot of climbing they get there, but there’s nothing to see but a pile of rocks. (And an amazing view of the kingdom). They’re about to give up when
“Hello!” says the pile of rocks
Roman and Els look shocked. But after a bit of checking it’s clear that the pile of rocks is some kind of creature, it lives on top of the mountain and it’s happy to have someone to talk to. And, it knows how to open the door.
“Can you tell us how to open the door”
“Just say the magic word”
“And can you tell us the magic word?”
“Yes, can you tell us the magic word, please?”
“We said please. Now please tell us the magic word.”
This goes on for some time before the penny drops.
Armed with the magic word they head back to the door, say ‘Please!’, and it opens. Inside is a long dark tunnel and a trail of footprints. Bravely they go in.
They’ve travelled a long way when Roman brushes against something sticky. He tries to shake himself free, but he’s stuck fast. Els avoids being stuck, but sees a giant spider climbing toward them.
[Els rolls running and jumping and succeeds, Roman rolls Super Strength, and fails]
The giant spider clambers toward them over the rocks. Els runs to bash it with her telescope, but it knocks her down. It’s about to sting her!
[Els rolls fighting monsters, fails]
Roman Dragon Shield tears himself free from the spider webs and rushes to help. As Els manages to get back on her feet he hits the spider in the eye with his sword. The spider scurries back into the darkness.
[Roman rolls fighting monsters, succeeds, Els rolls running and jumping, succeeds]
As our heroes are getting themselves ready to carry on they hear voices in the distance. They’re deep rumbling voices, and they’re singing.
“Hey Ho, Hey Ho, Off to Monster Tower we Go”
“I don’t know what I’ve been told”
“I don’t know what I’ve been told”
“Monster Tower is full of gold”
“Monster Tower is full of gold”
“No my gold”
“No it’s mine!”
The voices descend into argument for a while, then start singing again.
Els and Roman move quickly through the tunnels. Soon they’re right behind the voices, and can tell that they belong to a pair of trolls. They can also tell that the trolls are dragging something big along with them. It’s the Caledonian Boar!
Roman decides to sneak up behind the trolls, but at the last moment slips on some rocks. The Trolls turn round, spy him and rush to attack!
[Roman rolls Running and Jumping to sneak up, fails]
The trolls swing huge clubs at Els and Roman Dragonshield. But Roman picks up huge boulders and hurls them at the trolls. While he’s doing that Els leaps in to attack with her telescope, and Snowflake dives in barking and biting. Faced with this savage attack the Trolls run away into the darkness, leaving behind the Caledonian Boar, bound in heavy chains.
Els and Roman take the boar back to King Andy, who is delighted with his birthday present. The boar is added to the zoo, but the keepers look sceptical about their ability to keep it there.
Notes : Well, King Andy is determined to collect magical animals from all over the kingdom, so that’s going to be the theme of this campaign. I knew I wanted this one to be a boar, and that I wanted some kind of contest between the heroes and the witch (of Witch’s Wood) to collect the monsters.
Story seed : ‘The king wants the heroes to capture the rampaging Caledonian Boar for his zoo. Twist – it has already been captured by the witch’s minions.’
This session involved relatively little fighting. And the one fight that did happen was in a tunnel, so Dragon Piet was largely forgotten about for this game. One thing that didn’t work out as expected was the heroes ignoring the empty village, had they taken any interest they could have found the villagers hiding from the monsters that had passed through in the night.
I had loads of fun playing Fairy Millicent in her grumpy old woman guise. There was no real need to roll dice. I just had fun being as unpleasant as possible while demanding help from the heroes. The kids were utterly confused by the whole thing, and I suspect that had we gone to a fourth encounter the old lady might have found them less than helpful. Still, three challenges is the traditional number, and they passed!
The magical gate was another example of posing a problem while not knowing the answer. While the problem is obviously copied from Lord of the Rings ‘Speak friend and enter’ was probably going to be a bit beyond my kids. So I waited to see what they decided. And what they decided was that the answer was on top of the mountain. Having decided to put a friendly rock creature on top of the mountain I just chatted away in character until an answer to the puzzle dropped out. In this case because two impatient heroes somewhat forgot their manners!
Finally the Monster Tower song was a hit. Because for the next seven days of the holiday the kids sang it again, and again, and again.
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