Hârn: Genisis – Entry 15


20th of Agrazhar in the year 720 TR

After leaving the Tree Mogs and the people of Siem’s dream world, we headed west after Alexander. We stopped briefly in Asyria, where we heard rumors that Alexander was heading northwest to Togarma.

Seeking to shave a few days off our travels, Echo and the Shek-Pvar decided we should cross the North Bridge of Og and cut through the forests, a place Mai Lin referred to as the Dark Wood. She did not seem inclined to venture through them, but followed us anyway. I gather few travel through the forebodingly named forest.

A day into our travels, we came across a ruined, primitive village, still smoldering from the fires that had razed it. Bodies of people, like dark skinned elves crossed with scaly lizard bodies and claws littered the ground. Among the rubble, Mai Lin heard the faint cries of an infant, somehow still alive after the slaughter.

Her mothering instincts kicking in, Mai Lin took to the child which she named Pad Wai in the short time he was with us. I gather it meant something to her in Sindarin, though I know not what. Tracks heading north out of the town gave us some clue as to where their attackers went, so we followed them, hoping we might find some of these people alive.

It was not long before we did. I must admit some satisfaction as the Savage boiled to the surface, the Voice howling for blood. Though his actions were guided for good by the Cleric, the loss of control still shames me. They recognized the dress of the small band of soldiers as mercenaries and they formed a circle around a group of the bound primitives from the village, clearly taken as slaves.

Echo loosed my leash and the Savage jumped at the chance to kill. Snagging the horse from the Cleric, he rode into battle standing atop it and used it to vault into the center of the circle of men, surrounding himself immediately by ten men. I think he preferred those odds.

Memories when the Savage or the Other gain control are scattered, its hard to think; like I’m being slowly suffocated and struggling for breath. I do know the Savage was a whirl of action; twisting, dodging and parrying the numerous weapons arrayed against him while striking out at every opportunity.

In HârnMaster, combat is handled a little differently than it is in other systems like D&D or Shadowrun. On your turn, you can take any number of actions, including making an attack, like in any standard system.

On your opponent’s turn, if they attack you, you have a couple of options. You can defend yourself by blocking or dodging, but, if you’re feeling aggressive or lucky, you can also ignore their attempts to hurt you and instead choose to counterattack.

Counterattacking allows you to make another attack against that specific target, though at the expense of defending yourself, meaning any swing is more likely to land and often for more damage against you. The upshot being that you can attack more often and the attacker also is too busy trying to hurt you to defend against the counterattack and is also more likely to take be wounded.

Certain combinations of attack and defend rolls also can grant fumbles, stumbles or other scenarios that grant Attacker or Defender Tactical Advantages. Gaining Tactical Advantage also allows you to make another attack that turn.

The strategy is risky, but given a suitably skilled character, with adequate armor and no shortage of luck, a character could make an attack against and score a hit on every opponent he faces in a single turn. Of course, as the number of foes mounts the odds become slimmer and penalties are stacked, but the odds and dice rolls worked in my favor this day.

Scaurus was a whirling death machine, counterattacking against the first few opponents that attacked and, after I switched to more defensive options when I felt like I was pushing my luck, started generating Tactical Advantages which continued to give him additional strikes. He often made four or more attacks per round, usually succeeding, and managed to hold his own against more than half of the mercenary squad while the rest of the party caught up and engaged the others.

After the battle, the Savage’s hand was stayed from slaying the captain of the mercenary squad by Echo. The party wished to question the woman, though I could feel the adrenalin pumping through our body and the hunger for the kill wet on our tongue.

The Savage did as he was told, however, burying one of his axes into the trunk of a tree and tying her hands around it above her head. I could hear the Voice, growing stronger and taking control as they questioned her. He urged for her torture, though Echo silenced him through the collar.

The Voice is devious though. He is skilled at imitating my own behaviors as well as those of the Savage and manipulating them to his advantage, putting others at ease or justifying his violent actions as he needs. He lay silent for some time before inspecting the woman quietly and closely, as though interested in her wounds. The trickster Voice convinced Echo that the captain had sustained an injury to her foot and that treating it might loosen her tongue, as she had begun stonewalling their line of questioning.

As the Cleric held her foot and ankle firmly in his hands to inspect the ‘wound’, the Voice leaped up and kicked down on her leg just above the knee. With her leg locked out and braced in the Cleric’s hands, her knee snapped backwards like a twig. I could hear her screaming and the sickening crunch of bone even over the Voice’s uproarious laughter and the sudden, choking constriction of the collar as Echo brought us to our knees.

Getting a lawful good Cleric of Larani to inadvertently facilitate the torture of an unarmed prisoner? Priceless!

The tactic worked, however. The captain spilled the rest of the information even as we struggled to breath on the ground. She and her band of mercenaries were more hired by Alexander and sent to find and capture these people she called Irklings. He appears intent on gathering numerous creatures and beings unique to this land.

The captain and her men were to take them and meat Alexander far to the west, in the mountains of the Region of Cush. The others seem convinced that this should be our next destination. They plan to return to Chantry Tigris to share what they have learned with their teacher and return the artifacts and knowledge gleaned from their travels to complete their first trial, then continue on after Alexander.

Being a man of his word, Echo treated the captain’s broken leg and then released her. Her men were dead, she was unarmed and she wouldn’t travel fast on her leg. He seemed unconcerned that she might try to return to Alexander and warn him of our pursuit.

We set about freeing the captives, the one good thing to come about from all of this violence. I could hear the Voice quiet and the Savage rest as we freed these people. They spoke a strange language, but Marcus was able to facilitate communications through some sort of spell. The child, Pad Wai, was returned to them and they disappeared into the woods, leaving us to return to our journey.

I do wonder how far the captain made it before the Irklings caught up to her.


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