By now, I run two different games (with two different groups) in Dunnsmouth. One of them is just at the start of it, while the other has been through most of the encounters, the common as well as the „important ones“. As I am writing this, the tale of The Three Men that went to Dunnsmouth will continue tomorrow and a prep session is waiting for me. But before I take up this labor of love, I will share with you my answers to a question you might not have asked yourself yet: what comes after Dunnsmouth?
If you want to know what has happened before, read here.
Cormagh and Angus hacked through the boards that were used to nail the entrance shut. It did not took all to long, as the time and moisture had taken their toll on the wood already and most of the iron nails were rusty. All the while, Jasper had an eye on the captives who did not said a word but glared at the heroes in with anger and frustration. The sliding gate creaked awfully in its hanger assembly as Cormagh pushed it aside, and Angus kept his sword in hand while he held his torch inside to light the half-dark inside of the derelict sawmill. Little light fell inside from the still open latch in the roof and numerous little holes in the roof. They saw the old slight that was used to bring the trunks inside, the huge and now rusty saw blade that once turned the trunks into lumber, a large metal plate that had been used as a fire place and around it a number bedrolls, sacks and backpacks that gave testimony that this place had indeed been used as a hideout by the bandits. Just as they counted the sleeping place and try to assess the few belongings strewn around the old fire place they noted a movement up in the shadows under the roof…
The three left Magda (under the guidance of Herod) and headed north, to visit Albert Dunlop and later Dicky Samson. After a while swamp water dominated the surface where ever they looked and the PC used their poles again to steer their swamp boat. More and more dead or gnarled trees came into few in the mist, but not enough to call it wood. Their moldy or moss covered trunks dotted the landscape like silent watchers that gave testimony to the decay and desolation. Herod reminded the adventurers that they were not far from the ruins of the old sawmill of Dunnsmouth, a former source of work and income for the people, that went out of business as most of the surrounding trees that were good wood had been logged and processed. Only a few have been left where they are, for reasons unknown.
The characters agreed that it would be good to check the place, so Herod told them that the area around it was largely flooded, as it had been erected next to the river Dunn (that had become broader and broader till it flooded the area). Soon, they were punting their little skiffs through hip high waters and the pole sunk deep into the soft ground below. The fog was still with them, but it was not a solid wall near the river banks but an assortment of ragged and drifting patches among a fine veil of mist. Crickets gave their concert in the distance while toads and frogs made their presence known with deep croaks and strange gargling sounds. The waters where still and numerous gnats whirred about. As the old sawmill, a large wooden structure that had been erected on a foundation of now lichen covered cobblestone, came into sight the three noted somebody or something on top of the roof. They stopped their approach and tried to check if it could be a chimney or a pulley, but as the old ramp and pulley that used to feed lumber to the mill was clearly visible at the one end of the building, they decided to crouch low in their skiffs slowly reach the next old tree so that they would not have to rely on the mist alone as cover. Herod did not understood what they were doing, but kept quiet and made his way to the nearest tree trunk while he slipped into water. The sight of Jasper readying his bow was all he needed to be alarmed.
Failings of a GM: I should have rolled for Surprise for both sides at this point, with a bonus for the “guards”. While they were drinking a bit of moonshine, they were not drunk and had the better vantage point.
The three argued about their next move: while Cormagh wanted to simply go there and see what happens, Angus was not comfortable with “storming” armed people on higher ground (as they had noted some kind of arms with them, and promptly guessed that if these were guards, they would likely have spears or bows with them). Japser wanted to get into a position and observe the two, but Cormagh scoffed at that “We look at them, they sit there and perhaps look at us… what is that going to change, anyway?” Whoever Cormagh´s father has been, he for sure has not raised his son as one that would tweedle his thumbs! They finally decided that Cormagh und Angus would approach with their skiff in the open, but only after Jasper would have reached a good position for shooting. Herod stayed behind, as if that were the brigands they were after, his job was done and he had no intend to join the fight (which was alright with our troupe of bounty hunters: they had a deal with clear terms and would honor them). As the man-at-arms and the dwarf came into sight, they were quickly hailed by those on the roof who indeed readied bows. Angus tried a ruse, but soon after he had made himself heard over the space between them and the building, somebody shouted from inside of the old building and through an open hatch in the center of the roof “Those are the bounty hunters! They are after you! KILL THEM!” They recognized the voice as that of Dunc Samson and realized that he not only has been in league with the brigands but actually used the time they need to visit Magda to come here and warn the cutthroats!
Soon arrows started to fly and while Jasper was able to return fire, Angus and Cormagh were close to being sitting ducks on the skiff in the water. Cormagh, in a fit of compulsiveness, decided to jump of the skiff and into the water to get towards the old sawmill… and ended standing in swamp water that reached up to the dwarf´s chin! His armor and shield slowed him down, his short legs and the soft, sucking ground where no help either. Angus in turn decided to go down onto a leg and a knee on the skiff, after he used the pole to propel it forward so that he would drift towards the building while using his shield for what it was made for: cover. That way, he drifted past the dwarf while arrows embedded themselves into his shield with an audible !TWANNGG!. In the meanwhile, Jasper was able to shoot one of the brigands of the roof (who ended in the water on the other side with a loud *SPLASSH*. He was pretty sure that it had been the Witch-Daughter Shelly that he had downed, but his second mark decided that he had found his match and fled through the latch down into the sawmill. That change of the situation gave our heroes a pause.
Jasper slowly began to move around in a wide circle while both Angus and Cormagh reached the foundation of the sawmill. They found out that the old entry door had been nailed shut from the outside (perhaps as it had been closed down), they only other ways of entry seemed to be the opening around the old chute on the one end of the building… and of course, the latch on the top of the roof. While they could have reached both by climbing up the rusty chains of the old pulley, they decided against it as they were pretty sure that at least Dunc and Tommy Felkham, the last of the four brigands they were after, would be waiting inside with bows at the ready. Even Cormagh did not wanted to enter a battle on such unfavorable terms (and while the potion of Magda had already healed a good deal of Angus lost Hit Points, they remembered very well that a few unlucky dice rolls could spell their doom at this point). So, they began to throw a torch onto the roof. It did not do much on the slick, water-soaked wood, but they decided to throw another onto it… and another. In fact, they had brought about half a dozen (or more) along and guessed that they could take their sweet time with it: even if it would only result in smoke (as it was the case at the moment), this would at some point drive their enemies out. After all, those torches would burn for up to an hour.
As they were about to light the fourth, they heard Dunc from the inside who was ready to bargain their surrender. They would throw out their bows and other weapons (through the hatch) and would come out if they would promise not to kill them. The three agreed to that and Dunc further requested that Tommy would be allowed to kick the torches off the roof. Japser aimed at the brigand all the time, but he just did as Dunc had announced before both came out. They put them into the iron shackles they had brought along with them, and Jasper secured the corpse of Shelly-Ann (that was about to drift away slowly). Herod, who had watched from a save distance came closer again while Dunc spit forth insults and other niceties towards the characters. Angus had to hold him head first under the swamp water TWICE before the ill-tempered fellow would finally shut up. Tommy, in turn just glared at them with vile frustration. The three in turn began to wonder… and decided to remove the boards and nails at the large sliding gate so that they could see what´s inside the sawmill. Dunc was out of breath and Tommy just glared at them as they went about business. They all expected trouble, so Angus and Cormagh readied themselves while Jasper kept his bow ready but aimed at his captives while he tried to split his attention…
To be continued…
[This is the ongoing session report of my first take on Scenic Dunnsmouth]
As the three left Dunc Samson´s grounds they heard the faint sound of a church bell in the distance, only recognizable as such as one listened closely to it. This was more than the adventurers had hoped for: by now, the absence of day and night and the peculiar indifference of all the inhabitants to it gave them a bad feeling about the mist and Dunnsmouth in general. While none of them has actually called the place cursed by now, they all by now harbored an unspoken doubt that leaving this place would be as easy as waiting for the ship to fetch them. Herod told them that there indeed was an old, abandoned stone cottage in the area where Dunc had claimed to see the strange, lone woman and that he could lead them there. So they moved through the fog and the reeds on the swamp water and between the small islands of higher ground till they found a small tongue of land. The reeds was high everywhere near the water, but the PC were able to spot a thatch roof as well as a few gnarled trees here and there. Japser sneaked near to get a better look and found the cottage to be a small, round one-room sort of thing with no windows (and just one small opening in the roof) and a very simple wooden door that was bound to the frame rather than secured with hinges. He did not heard any obvious noise from where he was, aside from those of a few rabbits in a hutch at the outside wall, but noted a small trail of smoke coming out of the old chimney. After a small discussion the three planned to have Jasper take up position in one of the nearby trees (so that he could see the door and open up fire with his bow if need would arise) while the others would approach openly and call out to whoever would be inside (in hope that somebody would answer by coming out into the open). Japser climbed the tree carefully, as it looked decayed and the bark was rather slick, but he manged to get into position without any troubles.
The three had to cross the river Dunn, and found out that the surrounding area was largely flooded. They set over cautiously, for the reed that grew high on both sides would provide excellent cover for an ambush. And after all, wouldn´t it be natural for bandits to waylay at a waterway? But the only thing that came dashing out of the plants´cover where a couple of ducks that fled as the boats came closer. The fog lighted a bit as they left the river behind.
[Second part of the report of my second session about the three men who went to Dunnsmouth ]
The home of Pearce Dunlop rested on one of the few remaining patches of solid earth and the characters soon had to pull their swamp boat like a sledge once more, but this time they were not treading on muddy ground but on grassland. A soft glow shone in the thickening mist ahead of them. They already had heard from Johan van Kaus that the Dunlops were “wealthy, and always have been”, but as the mist parted they were surprised to see a small manor, with a few stone steps leading to a raised door flanked by pillars reminiscent of old roman architecture. The door itself was made of an exotic, dark wood non of the characters knew. There once must have been an engraving , a heraldic emblem perhaps, but it had faded so much that it was impossible to tell if that beast walking on its hind legs was a bear, a lion, an eagle or something else entirely. After they announced themselves with a bronze knocker that had long turned green with patina they waited patiently under the dim lantern above (that burned with fish oil) till a burly lad in lackey´s uniform to small for his size came to the door . Even if they would not have already known that the head of the Dunlop family was served by two of the Samson´s, they would have known Abraham´s heritage by his ugly pig-face alone. The sturdy servant was wary of the armed group, but as they were accompanied by Herod they were asked in and led into a small parlor. Fire was lit for them and they were asked to make themselves comfortable on the worn but still comfy leather furniture while they would be announced to Pearce Dunlop. They had to wait quite a while but were served ginger tea and pastries (they later were rather tasteless and hard) by Abraham and his wife Agnes (a woman with hips like a horse), the house maid. Pearce Dunlop turned out to be a man of old age who was unable to move without the aid of a walking stick, and had thin skin and next to no hair left. While his mind seemed a bit clouded, his eyes were still amazingly sharp and as the three stated their business, he was able to read the wanted posters they had brought along (and casually showed his disregard for woman by simply ignoring the fourth bandit of the Brownfox Brigands solely because she was).
The three quickly found out that Pearce Dunlop was either willful or weak-minded, as he ignored most of what the characters had explained as well as their question but instead offered to hire them to “put and end to the three murderous gallows birds” and to ensure the safety of the manor. Herod Duncaster tried to explain the situation to Pearce again, but the aged patriach rebutted Herod´s interference so sharply that he left the manor in anger. The three shared a look among each other, and after Jasper had ensured that “protecting the manor” did not meant that they had to stay there all the time, they excepted this task as well (after all, it was the same job they had came for and if Pearce Dunlop insisted on paying them as well, why should they decline?). The readiness with which they, strangers, where hired without second thought made them wonder, and so they decided to check the surrounding (and were joined by Herod who had been waiting for them outside). As they checked the bushes, hedges and trees near the manor Jasper noted that somebody must have sneaked around the house a few days ago. They even noted that one of the trees had been climbed with the help of climbing spurs, and Herod assured that as far as he knew, nobody in Dunnsmouth would own such “..and what for..? We do not venture into the mountains”. But they knew that the brigands they were after came over the mountains, and were not unlikely to own such. Pearce Dunlop or his servants must have noted -something-, so they thought, and that was why they were hired so eagerly. No further trails had been found that could have been followed, but at least they knew that their quarry had been around here in the last few days. Perhaps Dunc Samson would be able to tell them a bit more…