After fifteen minutes of walking through the marsh Ashly’s legs began to feel steadier. The boots she’d been issued – more like shapeless leather socks, really – weren’t very suited to the terrain, but she felt much steadier on the ground than on horseback. The others seemed more sure of themselves as well, though still wary after the giant frog attack.
They rounded a lone hillock and Ash saw, to the left, a vast expanse of water to the horizon, a broad lake in the marsh.
GURPS: Perception checks. Vera passes, the others don’t.
Ahead of her she could see Vera stiffen and step back moments before a large group of Lizard Men crawled over the top of the hillock right next to them – over a dozen of them. She’d only got a brief look at the corpses earlier, but here they were in all their glory, nearly seven feet tall, muscular, standing far more like men than dinosaurs, with scaled faces, mouths full of sharp teeth, and clawed hands. Each wore a leather sash from shoulder to hip, fringed with red, each carried short wooden spears held aloft.
Mustache took a combative stance, spear held ready, gesturing at the rest of them to stand back even as he fought to keep control over his horse.
Ashly could barely keep hold of her own, could scarcely keep it from rearing against the reigns she held.
GURPS: Related to the Riding skill, the Animal Handling (Equines) skill would be used here to keep the animals calm and – hey – none of our PCs have it. It defaults to IQ-5. They all fail, and are having difficulty controlling the horses.
Out of the corner of her eye she could see Nick’s mount run, panicked, off into the swamp, followed by Marco’s, and she feared hers would be next.
One of the Lizard Men, the largest by far, stepped forward and waved his red-feather fringed shield before speaking in what they were assuming was Common.
Mustache seemed perplexed, but answered in the same tongue. They went back and forth a bit.
“It shouldn’t be able to make those sounds with its mouth parts,” Marco muttered.
“Yeah, look,” Vera said. “It’s… it doesn’t match up right. Like bad lip-syncing.”
The speaking lizard regarded them. “The nature of the spell, mammals,” it said in strangely accented English.
“You speak English?” Ashly was shocked.
“I speak my words. You hear your words. The blessing of the swamp.”
“Magic?” Nick asked.
The lizard cocked its head. “You do not speak the same words as your commander.”
“No, we’re,” Marco hesitated. “We’re from far away.”
It nodded. “Then Red-Eye tell you same same. We are Red Feather Clan. Blue Feather Clan attacked your chief. No trouble with mammals, no. You go kill the Blue Feather Clan, Red Feathers stay out of it.”
Marco looked at Nick, then at Ashly, before nodding. “Okay.”
Redeye straightened up. A few of his fellows were coming from the swamp, leading the missing horses back to Nick and Marco. It spoke again to Mustache, briefly, before it and its fellows faded back into the reeds.
“I guess that counts as your magic, Nick?” Ashly asked.
“Y… yeah,” Nick said. “There are spells like Comprehend Languages that let people communicate.”
“We should find a Wizard to cast that for us,” Vera said.
“Or a priest,” Marco suggested.
“Spellcasting usually isn’t cheap?” Nick said. “But yeah… if we really need to talk to somebody…”
Mustache watched them speak for a few moments before returning to take the lead, moving more carefully, putting a finger to his lips.
It was another ten minutes before they found their prey. The path opened up into a larger clearing, dominated by a single large tree and a massive boulder almost two stories high. Over Mustache’s shoulder Ashly counted five of the lizard people gathered around a big pile of tools, furnishings, and other household junk sitting on what looked like a carpet laid out under the tree. Each appeared to have a shield, club, and a few wooden spears. They were examining the objects with intense scrutiny, while a few yards away lay another pile of swords, shields, and armor.
A sixth lizard man sat on top of the large rock – armed like the others, watching his companions sift through the goods and occasionally craning his head around, as if keeping watch.
Mustache let go of his horse’s reigns and slipped into a crouch, moving slowly towards the creatures, keeping to the edge of the clearing.
GURPS: Stealth rolls to get as close as possible.
Vera fails – which isn’t an issue if none of the Lizard Men make their “notice shit” rolls… but Marco critically fails. Since we want to save his Luck for combat, we’re sticking with it.
Suddenly, right in front of her, Marco sunk into the muck up to the knee. A panicked look crossed his face and Ashly quickly stepped up to help him out, but the unmistakable sound of suction from his leg getting pulled out of the mud quickly caught the creature’s attention.
Almost birdlike, their heads pivoted towards the sound, reptilian eyes widening at the sight of the intruders.
- Lizard Men 1-5 are 7 yards from the party. Lizard Man 6 is 9 yards away, and 6 yards elevated on top of his rock.
- The Lizard Men are Surprised this round, and Do Nothing.
- Mustache advances 5 yards.
- Vera advances 5 yards.
- Ashly advances 5 yards.
- Marco advances 5 yards.
- Nick advances 5 yards.
- Lizard Men 1-5 move 7 yards away, to behind the rock.
- Lizard Man 6 throws his javelin at Mustache. He has -2 due to range, but this is negated due to his height advantage. He hits, and Mustache fails to dodge, but the javelin’s 2 damage is blocked by his leather armor.
- Vera begins climbing the boulder, but fails her Climb roll and can’t find good hand-holds.
- Mustache pulls the javelin out of his armor, readying it.
- Ashly begins chases the Lizard men, and is 4 yards away.
- Marco follows Ashly, and is 4 yards from the Lizard Men.
- Nick goes the other way around the boulder to head them off, and is 4 yards away.
- Lizard Men 1-6 ready their javelins.
- Vera gives up on climbing and goes to follow Nick.
- Ashly goes all out defensive, increased dodge, and advances towards the Lizard Men.
- So does Marco.
- Nick evaluates the closest Lizard Man facing him, #5, giving him a +1 bonus if he attacks next round.
Mustache aims his javelin at Lizard Man 6.
- Lizard Man 1 throws his javelin at Ashly. He has a -2 due to the range. She makes a dodge, as does Marco when it passes by her.
- Lizard Man 2 does the same, but misses… but it critically hits Marco! He gets no dodge. Only 1 damage (doubled to 2) penetrates his armor, but due to the Critical Hit it’s treated like a Major Wound.
- Fortunately Marco passes his Health roll. (9/10 hp remain)
- Lizard Man 3 also attacks Ashly, but his throw misses both of them.
- Lizard Man 4 throws his javelin at Nick.
- Nick makes a retreating dodge, increasing the range to 5. It misses Vera too.
- Lizard Man 5 basically does the same, Nick dodges, it misses Vera.
- Lizard Man 6 hits Mustache with another javelin – and again, rolls little enough damage that it fails to penetrate.
- Vera goes all out defensive up to Lizard Man to Lizard Man 5.
- Ashly goes all out defensive up to Lizard Man 1.
- Marco advances All Out Defensive up to Lizard Man 2.
- Nick evaluates Lizard Man 5 and is still 4 yards away.
- Mustache throws the javelin back at Lizard Man 6. He fails his dodge, but it doesn’t do enough damage to get through his hide.
- Lizard Man 1-3 and 5 ready clubs.
- Lizard Man 4 and 6 ready javelins.
- Ashly makes her default spear attack at Lizard Man 1. This is DX-5 (7) so it’s telegraphed (+4 to hit, but gives the opponent a +2 to defend). She hits, and LM1 fails his dodge – she hits him in the torso for 4 damage. 2 gets through his hide, and as it’s impaling, it’s doubled back to 4. (8/12 hp remain)
- Marco does the same to 2, but misses, even using his Luck.
- Vera attacks LM 5 with her spear with a telegraphed attack; it dodges.
- Nick evaluates 5, advancing to 3 yards away.
- Lizard Man 1 attempts to club Ashly. She makes a retreating dodge and is 2 yards away – note that the spears have greater range so she doesn’t need to stay close.
- Lizard Man 2 attacks Marco, but misses.
- Lizard Man 3 attacks Marco, he dodges back as Ashly did.
- Lizard Man 4 throws his javelin at Nick; Nick fails his dodge, takes 2 damage past his armor which is doubled to 4. (4/10 hp)
- Lizard Man 5 attacks Vera, she retreating dodges to 2 yards distant.
- Lizard Man 6 attacks Mustache; he dodges.
- Mustache picks up one of 6’s javelins.
- Vera kicks the now unarmed Lizard 4. It dodges.
- Nick advances and evaluates Lizard 5.
- Ashly makes a telegraphed attack against Lizard 1 and then backs away to 3 yards distant; it dodges.
- Marco does the same, but Lizard 2 fails to dodge; Marco does 4 damage to it. (8/12 hp)
- LM 1 has to Move and Attack to try and club Ashly; this gives it a -4 to skill. It misses.
- LM 2 misses Marco for the same reason.
- LM 3 drops his club and readies a javelin.
- LM 4 readies its club.
- LM 5 clubs vera for 2 damage.
- LM 6 is out of javelins. It crosses to the far side of the boulder.
- Mustache drops the javelin, readies his spear, and crosses around to Nick and Vera’s side, ending up 4 yards behind them.
- Vera goes all out defensive (increased dodge) and backs away.
- Nick advances to 2 yards from 5 and attacks, with his +3 bonus from evaluating and +4 from telegraphed – and LM 5 dodges.
- Ashly makes a telegraphed attack against LM1, who fails to dodge – she stabs it for 8 damage past its armor. It falls.
- Marco likewise manages to stab LM2 for 10 damage, dropping it.
- LM 3 throws its javelin at Marco; he fails his dodge but it doesn’t penetrate his armor.
- LM 4 attempts to club Vera but misses.
- LM 5 tries to club Nick but Nick critically succeeds his dodge, turning the attack into a critical failure. The club turns in 5’s hand and must be readied again.
- LM 6 starts climbing down the boulder.
- Mustache advances to stand behind Vera and Nick.
- Ashly advances and tries to stab 3. She does 4 damage to it (8/12)
- Marco does the same but misses.
- Nick makes an all out attack on 5. He hits. It critically fails its dodge attempt, takes 6 damage (6/12), and ends up prone.
- Vera attacks it, it fails its dodge, and takes another 2 damage (4/12).
- LM3 readies its club.
- LM4 clubs Nick. He takes 2 damage, and is reeling from his wounds.
- LM5 tries to get to its knees.
- LM6 is still climbing down.
- Ashly attacks LM3 but it dodges.
- Marco attacks LM3, but it dodges.
- Mustache attacks LM4 with his spear. It fails its dodge and takes 10 damage. (2/12) It blows its knockdown roll and passes out.
- Nick is all out defensive, backing away.
- Vera attacks LM5. It fails its defense, she does 4 damage to it, taking it out.
- LM 3 attacks Ashly. She dodges.
- LM 6 finishes climbing down.
Ashly attacks 3. It dodges.
- Marco, same story.
Mustache attacks 6, it dodges.
- Nick is all out defensive.
- Vera attacks 6, it fails its dodge. She inflicts 8 damage (4/12). It passes its HT roll to avoid stunning.
- LM 3 attacks Marco but misses.
- LM 6 goes all out defensive.
- Ashly attacks LM3 but critically fails; she drops the weapon.
Marco attacks, but LM3 dodges.
- Mustache attacks 6. it fails its dodge, takes 2 damage (2/12). Its dodge is now halved.
- Nick makes an All Out Attack on 6; hits. It fails its dodge, and takes 6 damage and is dropped.
- Vera makes an All Out Attack on 3 from behind; it gets no defense. She kills it.
Mustache ran forward with a roar, and the group scattered, parting both ways around the boulder in the center of the clearing.
“Vera! Nick! Go left!” Marco yelled, heading to the right. Ashly ran with him, past him, clutching her spear, having only the vaguest idea of its use beyond “pointy end goes in the bad guy.” But why should that stop her now?
As they rounded the boulder she came face to face with the three they’d been following, now facing them, ready to throw their short spears.
“Look out!” She dove to the side and all three went flying past.
“Ungh!” Marco grunted, and to Ashly’s horror she saw that one of the weapons had struck him square in the chest.
“Marco!” she cried.
He staggered, but quickly straightened. “It’s fine! Look out!”
Face forward she edged closer to the Lizard Men as they pulled their clubs off their belts. She dashed forward, thrusting her spear at the closest with both hands, feeling it press against and then into its chest, through the muscle to scrape the bone.
It swung its club at her and she slipped back away, only for Marco to step past and jab with his own weapon. The other two lizard creatures swung their clubs at him, and he ducked back as well.
“We have the range advantage here,” Marco said. “Make them come to us.”
“Got it!” Vera stepped back. The one facing her lumbered forward again, swinging its club – she stepped under its guard, again, stabbing its spear deep into its gut a few inches under where she’d hit it the first time. The creature let out an almost-squeaking sigh and slipped to the floor.
Marco copied her move, dispatching the second creature they were facing, only to get hit by a second thrown javelin from the one that remained.
“No, I’m good,” he said. “Just nicked me through the armor.”
Together they faced the third and only remaining lizard creature, taking turns thrusting their spears at it. She’d been lucky once or twice, but the weapon still felt clumsy, still felt like it was too long, like the head was too heavy. There was a trick to fighting with it, there had to be, but she just didn’t notice.
The handle, slick with her sweat, the blood running down from the tip, and the humidity of the swamp slipped from her grip and went sailing about a foot in front of her. “Marco!” she cried.
Marco stepped in front of her, spear tip between them and the Lizard Man, hissing as it advanced… only to stop and look down almost comically at the steel spear head protruding from its chest.
The creature fell into a boneless heap, revealing Vera from behind it, pulling her spear from its back.
“Vera,” Ashly noticed a trickle of blood running down her wrist. “You’re hurt!”
“It’s nothing.” She turned. “But Nick…”
Nick staggered into view, literally staggered, and almost fell. Mustache stepped to his side, helping to prop him up. The blood flowing from his armor was hard to miss. “Nick!”
Nick sat down against the boulder, hard. “I don’t feel so good.”
Ashly knelt by his side. “Oh my god, did they stab you?”
“Only a little.” His eyes were half-lidded, but he was awake and responsive. That was good.
“Help him!” Vera begged.
“I can’t, I mean… I don’t even have any bandages.” She looked to Mustache and mimed wrapping bandages.
The older man shook his head.
“What do we do?” Marco asked.
The trip back to the keep outside the swamp was uneventful, Redeye’s Lizard Men showing up to guide the group shortly after they left the battlefield. Their assistance was subtle, but definite, guiding the humans away from the swamp’s dangers.
When they returned Mustache presented the noblewoman with the ring he’d taken from the dead man in the swamp – likely her husband, and they shared a long embrace. Despite the ruin of her keep, she did have linens that Ashly was able to use to create crude bandages for Vera and Nick, though the former’s injuries were largely bruises and contusions.
GURPS: Ashly knows First Aid from a modern technological setting – TL 8, in GURPS terms. The local medical technology, however, is only TL 4 – meaning that she has a penalty when trying to use modern techniques with ancient equipment. In this case, it’s a -7, though this can be offset by taking extra time.
Normally simple bandaging takes 1 minutes; Vera takes 5, bringing her penalty down to -2. Both succeed, healing Nick to 3 and Vera to 6.
After they’d finished, the woman provided each of the guards with a small pouch of coins. To Ashly’s shock, the coins inside were gold. She looked up at Mustache.
He hefted his own pouch, caught her gaze, and gave a short nod.
“This seems like a lot of money.” She whispered to Nick.
He shrugged, then winced at the pain it caused him. “Believe it or not this is standard DnD starting wealth, more or less.”
She slipped the bag into her belt. “This is like… two pounds of gold, Nick.”
“DnD economy doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Vera said.
Module: Our PCs are rewarded with 100 gp each.
Next Episode: What they do.
Everybody gets 1 CP. The rolls used this episode were Animal Handling (Equine), Stealth, and Spear. Vera also made attempts to use Brawl and Climbing, though both failed.
- Nick has 5 unspent. He passes the IQ roll to pick up Animal Handling, but fails the roll for Spear, and increases his Stealth.
- Vera has 2 unspent. She fails her roll for Spear and Climb, and improves her Stealth.
- Ashly has 3 unspent. She passes her IQ roll for Spear, fails it for Animal Handling, and puts a point in the former.
- Marco has 1 unspent. He fails his IQ roll for Spear, but passes it for Stealth.
This ends “Lizard Raid,” the first scenario in the Under Illefarn module.