Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 55.

Summary:
On their way to a Viking Thing (i.e. Assembly), the Army of the Light are ambushed by Norse Hill Giants and their Ogre followers under the payment of the more influential Norse Jötun Giants, who are seeking blood vengeance for an attack on clan allies the previous year.

Backstory:
The previous year the Army of the Light was recruited to stop Jötun Giants that had attacked the walls of Ironguard Motte. The group headed into the Moon Peaks to take them on. The challenge was almost beyond them, however, they had a card from the Deck of Dirty Tricks that allowed them to summon a random encounter to come to their aid, and the random roll of the dice brought in Stone Giants to aid them! All seemed well and they were hailed as heroes upon return.

Game Diary:
It is now a year later. Gimli “rot face”, the dwarven berserker afflicted with a rotting body resulting from his encounter entering the Pit of Chaos, and a week before becoming a werewolf under the dual moons of Lunacy, is heading east out of the Duchy of Aerik with his “thingmen” to attend the Þhing (assembly), organized by the goði (chieftain) of this district, Thorgrímr Osricsson [a quick aside: I am currently working my way through the Icelandic Sagas and engaging in academic research into Norse culture, which is making its way into my game world, and thus some of the medieval Icelandic terms and spelling]. Thorgrímr has noticed that Gimli is on his way to becoming a major figure in the area and wants that power on his side (Gimli is currently 5th level, and a situation is being set up so that if Gimli survives to 9th level and has reached the point when he can gather followers and acquire a piece of land, then it will be Thorgrímr who will provide him with a longhouse and an elite group of berserkers under his command).

The journey to the Þhing is one week east of the Duchy of Aerik. The first evening at resting on the side of the road as the forest is giving way to open grass lands with rocky plateaus scattered about, they encountered a 30 foot long gray worm with sharp teeth surrounding its open maw sneaks in during the middle of the night and swallows the gnome bard, Belden whole and moves off. The rest on watch kill the massive beast and little Bedlen crawls out and spends the night washing and cleaning his clothes from all the worms interior goo.

On day two they follow the lonely road with their two wagons of ten adventurers and gifts for the assembly. But then on a plateau north of the west-east road they are traveling on, they make out three hill giants, two are beating drums, and one, clearly the chieftain named Bogar, is chanting. The giant’s morale goes up from the frightening sounds and those of the adventurers slips. Then six ogres emerge from the 6 foot tall grass and begin hurling rocks at the group. The Army of the Light break into roughly two groups, five make their way south of the road to take on three of the ogres, and another five focus on the three ogres north of the road (as well as the three hill giants, who are currently focused on enhancing their ogre minions). Even with the hill giant chants/drum beats and a blessing from their god (Grolantor), I miss more than I hit, and the adventurers send in their owl companion to distract ogres, others summon swarm to wear down other ogres, Balthazar, the elven wizard (who has the head of a lizard and torso of an ape due to the Pit of Chaos) launches magic missiles at the hill giants, and Gimli enters Oðins Fury and makes multiple bow attacks each round on ogres and hill giants.

Bogar, the Hill Giant Chieftain

The hill giants and ogres are a bit taken aback by their lack of success from the war chants and Grolantor’s blessings, the hill giants stop the drumming and chanting and begin hurling boulders from the plateau south toward the adventurers. The rock and boulder throwing is met by magic missiles and arrow fire. Eventually players make it through the high grass and enter melee with the ogres. Some are more enthusiastic than others and a critical fail of 1 ended up being a critical hit on an ally next to them (when I rolled the critical fail die). Bogar, the hill giant chief leaps off the plateau and is met by Roulf, the half-roc Drachentöten (Dragonslayer) of Crom. Bogar falls under many blows and Roulf cuts off his head and enters his dragon dance of intimidation with Bogar’s head held above him. Another hill giant falls from ranged attacks onto the surface of the plateau, and the third leaps off the plateau and heads away from Roulf to attack Gimli. Rolando, a hobbit rogue/pacer stabs him from behind, and other powerful warriors attack him from the front. Just like Bogar before him, he falls into the tall grass with a thud, like a giant tree. The remaining ogres are easily dispatched.

The Army of the Light took a lot of damage and needed rest, and upon looking behind the plateau discover the hill giants and ogres had a giant wagon with over a 1,000 gold pieces and some gifts which they were going to take to the Þhing. The group took the loot as their own and rest up for the next leg of their trip. They might be worried, though, for it was known that Bogar was most likely under the pay of a Jötun Giant named Asbjorn, who is the one seeking blood vengeance for the fallen Jötun Giants from last year. He is most likely waiting for them somewhere during their remaining four day journey. They can only hope they are prepared well enough to take on this challenging obstacle!