Scratch Hill

Our Zweihänder game on Roll20 continues, as we search for the missing Baron Barnstable. There has been talk of strange noises in the woods to the south, so our plan is to investigate and see what we can find. As usual, the Preacher Eva is in charge of recording what happens.

After getting a good night’s sleep at the village, and offering Marie some silver in thanks for the help she’d given us, we headed south into the woods with the help of our guide to look for the settlement at Scratch Hill. He led us as far as the place where he saw the horned creature, and quickly left us to investigate ourselves.

Djarin took some time to check around the area for prints, and quickly found the bloody remains of a large deer. It looked like it had been killed and butchered here, and parts of it had been taken away. There were bare human footprints around the carcass, as if a couple of people had been dancing around it, before heading off south with the meat.

So we headed south, following the tracks and keeping an eye out for the landmarks we had been told would lead us to Scratch Hill. We found some discarded water skins, which had been filled with someone which was definitely not water, but smelt strongly of alcohol, and even seemed to have affected the insects that were drunkenly buzzing around them.

After another 90 minutes or so, I finally had to admit that I was probably lost. We should have located the settlement by now, but there was no sign of it. With help from Djarin though, we figured out what was probably the right direction to go, and headed that way. With hindsight, it seemed like the tracks we had been following had deliberately kept clear of the settlement.

Some time later, we found ourselves at the base of a hill, at the top of which was a wooden palisade. Working around the side of the hill we found the main gate, which had been broken down, and within a hamlet of scared people and burned and damaged houses.

The people quickly formed a defensive line as we climbed up the hill, but were just as quickly relieved when I told them that we were here to help, and were trying to find Baron Barnstable. Rather worryingly they accepted us because apparently ‘we looked like people’.

The elders here are Jacob and Martha, and there’s a dozen or so families. The Baron had been here with his bodyguard, but whilst they were feasting there had been the sound of strange music of horns and drums which came from the deep wood. It was then that they had been attacked by naked hairy people who didn’t quite look like people. They had little horns on their head and carried spears and clubs. Many of the people here had fled, others had been killed, and by the time they returned in the morning most of their food has been stolen and there was no sign of the Baron.

It is thought that the hairy men had come from the direction of the village of Sandstone further to the south – which was roughly in the direction of the tracks which we had been following. The music though had been coming from somewhere closer than that.

In order to help, I say some prayers for their dead, and try to rally them to improve morale.

Player’s Notes: I tried to use Leadership to rally them, though Charm may have been a more appropriate skill. My Leadership is better though, plus I have an ability to flip to succeed, and always critical on success. This pretty much means I’m always going to try Leadership, even if other skills are more appropriate. The problem with having a limited flexibility in what skills you can buy is that you’re forced down certain routes for a character, even if you may prefer a different focus for your character. As it turned out, none of that mattered because I rolled 88, which was a critical failure. Swapping the digits is still 88, so I was stuck with the result.

The villagers didn’t seem too enthusiastic, and I may have misjudged what they needed to hear and made things worse.

Whilst I was doing that Djarin had gone off to search around, and had found lots of tracks. He thinks that the creatures are probably a type of Grendel, specifically a Bru. They are known to have celebrations in the woods, and kidnap people in order to do extremely bad things to them. It is said that one should never accept a drink offered by a Grendel.

During the night I had been awoken by the sound of music in the woods. Leaving the hut that we had been given, and going up to the top of the palisade to look out into the woods, I could see that there were lights in the distance, as if fires are burning. Also worryingly, there didn’t seem to be anyone on guard – all the villagers have gone to bed.

I woke Calthar and Djarin (though Djarin did seem exhausted so I was reluctant to wake him), and we figured out the direction and distance, leaving a mark on the palisade to record it for the morning. Djarin also noted that there was a smaller fire about half way to where the main party seemed to be happening.

Now that it is morning, we are planning on heading out to investigate. Quite a few of the villagers are packing their things and leaving – they have decided that here is not a safe place to be.

We have reached the first encampment, and Djarin and Calthar have managed to sneak ahead to see what is there. There is a cage there, with maybe half a dozen naked people imprisoned inside. There are signs of that someone is up and about, and at least one person can be heard snoring. If these are the Bru that attacked Scratch Hill then there could be about eight of them. We will need to be careful.

Samuel Penn