Alright, as we all remember, there was a heck of a lot of exposition at the start of Usurper!, and I’m not going to repeat it all for late comers. Bullet points ahoy!
- I again roll, before starting the formal adventure, to determine which skills have improved since Book 2. My one-die roll is a….3, giving me a further +1 to my Punch modifier.
- I again select Yubi-Jutsu as my ‘extra’ skill, although it literally did me no good in my first attempt at this adventure.
- I once more approach Glaivas and request that he guide me through the Valley of the Lich-Kings. We set off, and I cop a pounding from my fan the leopard, causing damage of 4 Endurance.
- Glaivas slips me some mandrake root, presumably when the drug squad isn’t looking, and I enter the astral plane, hotly pursued by the Fiend, the servant of Nemesis.
- This time, when I arrive at the gate of Heaven and get the cold shoulder from the Guardian Angel (who I shall definitely put on my ‘revenge list’) I literally call out for the help of the Spirit Tiger.
- Yes, you read that right. I’m not proud. I like living.
Apparently my humiliating cry for help was all that was necessary. The ‘sinuous form’ takes shape on the road behind the Guardian Angel, and I watch as the ‘flawless and powerful’ Tiger battles the Fiend on my behalf.
After a lengthy struggle, the Tiger is triumphant. I wasn’t able to assist in the fight, but I can assure observers that I was all set to leap in if the Tiger experienced difficulty. Just as I am about to offer due praise and thanks to my saviour, the Guardian Angel (who suddenly decides that intervention is alright) speaks a magic word which sends my spirit back to my body, and Glaivas is relieved to see me back.
That makes two of us, for sure. I tell him what happened, and the books makes no mention of how that story must sound to my buddy (although he was the one that gave me that mandrake root). In a gesture of manly solidarity, he doesn’t query my sanity or credibility, but you just know that he’s questioning certain life choices that he has recently made.
The next morning, after a less vision-crazed night, we enter some (apparently) peaceful farmland. Glaivas totally ruins the moment by stating that all the corn and other crops is grown for, and fed to, slaves. He mentions that we can inspect to encounter halvorcs, orcs, the Priests of Death and other noble citizens of the area.
We move past the Walls of Shadow, and encounter a hedge, known as the Palisade of Thorns. We must either climb or make a significant detour. We manage to make it to the top, this being depressingly aided by the hedge being designed to keep the unfortunate inhabitants in, rather than intruders out.
My ninja eyes note a blackhawk circling above us, and anyone who’s seen a Hitchcock movie knows that this indicates nothing good. I can throw a Shuriken at the bird, run away, crawl on my belly to the left or retreat.
This is actually a really difficult choice. I’m worried that the Shuriken will give away my position, but simply crawling around probably won’t help. Going back doesn’t really look like an option either.
I figure that the blackhawk has already spotted us, and that dithering around will only allow enemies to get closer. We take to our heels, and various overseers, slave drivers and guards give chase. We manage to keep ahead, although the blackhawk keeps circling, and guards keep joining in the fun.
If this was a Michael Bay movie, this would be the big budget action sequence, with frequent cross-cutting between the blackhawk, the guards, Glaivas and myself as well as the helpless slaves, set to some variation on the Chariots of Fire theme.
We finally see the other side of the hedge (ahem, ‘Palisade of Thorns’) and sprint towards the finish line. Since this has now become effectively an action movie, just as we thought we were home free, ten further baddies (halvorcs) emerge from crouching positions in the corn. More worryingly, they have their spears set to cause bodily harm.
Yes, Arrow Cutting, I haven’t forgotten you. Good to see you helping at times like this. I knock a spear aside with ease, and probably stick my tongue out for good measure.
I have to take on four (4) halvorcs at the same time.
Each of them has Endurance of 9, and they collectively have a 1 in 3 chance of causing 1 Die’s worth of damage each round.
I need (only) 4 on 2 dice to hit.
Round 1 :
I manage to hit, and do the maximum of 8 damage! The halvorcs miss.
Endurance : Me 16, Halvorcs 1,9,9,9
Round 2 :
I hit again, and kill the first enemy. Unfortunately, they also strike me, causing 3 damage.
Endurance : Me 13, Halvorcs 9,9,9
Round 3 :
I hit, causing 7 damage. I’m also again tagged, causing another 3 damage.
Endurance : Me 10, Halvorcs 2,9,9
Round 4 :
I kill the second enemy, and I’m able to batter aside the further attack.
Endurance : Me 10, Halvorcs 9,9
Round 5 :
I kick the third halvorc IN THE FACE, but only cause 4 damage. I’m grazed in return, causing 1 damage.
Endurance : Me 9, Halvorcs 5,9
Round 6 :
I kick again for 4 damage, and dodge the response.
Endurance : Me 9, Halvorcs 1, 9
Round 7 :
I finish off the third Halvorc, and allow the spear to harmlessly pass to the side
Endurance : Me 9, Halvorc 9
Round 8 :
I deal 4 damage, But, unfortunately I’m stuck in the guts to the tune of 4 damage.
Endrurance : Me 5, Halvorc 5
Round 9 ;
I deal (only!) 3 damage, and luckily dodge the response.
Endurance : Me 5, Halvorc 2
Round 10 :
I finish off the last miscreant. Victory!
As Glaivas and I continue running, we note with some trepidation that 50+ Halvorcs are streaming out of a concealed gate in the hedge. Glaivas mentions that he is more concerned about even stronger opponents pursuing us, such as the Minions of Death. We can either keep running all night, or hide under one of the canvas awnings to rest for the night.
I think that going all night brings about its own problems, so I decide to rest. We’ll find out more tomorrow (Ha! See what I did there?)
Stats : Endurance : 5, Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +2, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 5
Awesome names : Palisade of Thorns, Minions of Death.