April 21st, 215
Life in Grontvand has been quiet for the last month, at least as quiet as the life of a Norseman gets. The various player characters have gone about their daily lives, though the shadow of the creature that attacked Valdis Bjornsdottir a month ago (see the previous scenario, "Herbquest") still lingers in the thoughts of the people of Grontvand, and weighs heavily on Evard Knudsson, the Jarl of the town. However, there have been no further sightings of the creature over the past month.
The player characters wake one morning to find the townsfolk of Grontvand in something of an uproar. A body has washed up during the night near the Tornede Forest, at the edge of the Ingvald River. The player characters have been summoned by the Jarl to the longhouse, and a grim scene awaits them there. Lund Gunarsson, one of the town's hirdmen, and the person who found the dead man, is there looking darkly around. Evard tells him to repeat what he told the counsellors. Lund tells the characters the tale of how he found the body washed up on shore, barely alive, whose last words were, "The Blod Bjorne" (Blood Bears) are coming.... They've killed us all..." The various people present debate the meaning of this. When asked, Dagna Styrsdottir (Joanne; the Volva), Vigfur Egilsson (Tom; the town's main scout), and Ogir Haralfsson (Nick; the town's Thulr) tell Evard and the counsellors that to the best of their knowledge there are no other communities along the Ingvald River or up towards the Sneklaedte Mountains. The nearest community lies on the other side of the mountains, through the Herm Pass. Needless to say, Evard tells the characters that they are to investigate this situation, and that his daughter, Sigrun Evardsdottir (Angela) will lead them. While the others agree to this, Sigrun says that she will want to take a bodyguard with her, to which her father says that the hirdman Ingrid Horoldsdottir (Kathy) is to accompany her on this quest.
While Vigfur and Ogir suggest that the characters should start at the river site where the body was found, Sigrun says they are going to start with the healer, Osk Knutsdottir, and see what they can learn about the man whose body was found. Dagna agrees that this is a good choice on where to begin, and that she hopes Heimdall gives them his blessing on their new task. At the healer's, the characters learn very little. The body is that of a typical full-bearded not unattractive Norseman, but the observant Ogir notes that he is wearing farmer's clothes. Not a traveller. Osk can tell them little, other than that he did not drown from what she can observe of the body, and points out the waterlogged wounds of what might be a large axe on his chest and arms. The player characters discuss the body that they found in the Tornede Skov in their first adventure, and wonder if this man is perhaps somehow related circumstantially to the previous man that they buried there in a cairn.
Sigrun thanks Osk for her time, and tells the rest of the group that they need to prepare for travel. She will meet them at the gates in an hour. She goes to see Amund Torkelsson (David; the skald), and tells him what has happened. He says that he has heard in passing of a new community that was started up near the place where the Ingvald River diverges away from the Tornede Forest; it's supposed to be quite small, however. Sigrun says this is a start. Amund says that he wants to come with her and the others. He senses a story in the making, and believes that he may be of use to the others. She tells him they are leaving soon, from the main gate, and he agrees to meet her and the others there.
Through Bjorn Ulfsson, the leader of the hirdmen in Grontvand, Sigrun tracks down Lund Gunarsson, and he agrees to show them the place where he found the body. The player characters depart Grontvand, and Lund leads the characters to the east and slightly south to the curve in the river at the edge of the Tornede Forest where he found the body. Both Ogir and Vigfur try to make sense of the sets of tracks from where Lund found the body and several of the hirdmen took it from the river and transported it back to the town. The scout says that the man did not come to the edge of the river by land; he must have floated down the river. Sigrun suggests that they follow the river through the wood and see what they can find. However, Amund says it might be better to travel north and then east, skirting the forest, but the others are having none of it for the moment. They thank Lund, and he heads back for Grontvand.
Amund and Dagna are loathe to go into the Tornede, as aside from the wood cutters of the town (who don't go very deep into the woods to hew the trees they require for their craft), there are stories and tales of old told about the wood. Ogir scoffs at them, and says that the wood is safe enough for those who know how to treat it with respect, but Dagna advises caution about this endeavour. The player characters put matters to a vote, and decide to head into the Tornede.
Figuring to follow the river a short ways, the player characters set off, Vigfur in the lead and Ingrid bringing up the rear. The going is tougher than the group expected, the forest living up to its name as various characters are scratched by thorns along the way. As the day wears on, the player characters decide that it may be time to find a good location and set up a camp. Vigfur agrees to move ahead and scout the area. While he does so, Sigrun and Dagna discuss what they should do next, though the Volva advocates returning back to the town. Amund comments to the two women that he thinks they need to proceed ahead; Sigrun's father needs to know who or what killed the man that was found at the edge of the river, and there may be other things at stake. When Dagna asks him what he means by this, the skald merely says it's superstitions.
Ogir Haralfsson comes racing back through the forest, heedless of the thorns. He urges the rest of the characters to come with him, quickly, as "they" are under attack. Following Ogir somewhat cautiously, the rest of the player characters come upon a small clearing where what seem to be a group of refugees, poor and impoverished Norse men, women, and children are being attacked by a group of what appear to be bandits with axes, spears, and wearing light armour. Dagna is shocked to see that they are led by a large (bear of a) man bearing a bear totem on his staff!
Last night, the Friday night gaming group continued on with the Yggdrasill game that they are playing in. This session marked the start of a brand new adventure for the group, one that I've done up based on one of the old Desolation RPG scenarios that I ran on them a while back. My Friday night players don't mind playing adventures that have been re-cycled from one game system to another, although the same cannot be said for the Sunday gaming group (well, at least one of the players in that group). As long as the scenarios fit the game system they're being used in.
The players had a good time with the game system once more, as the Yggdrasill game system is turning out to be one of their favourite sets of game mechanics, easy to learn and fun to play within and implement. Joanne's Dagna Styrsdottir and Nick's Ogir Haralfsson had a testing time, figuring out a few things and dealing with some of the magical elements of the game world. Kathy's Ingrid Horoldsdottir and and Tom's Vigfur Egilsson had their work cut out for them, both from the point of view of trying to protect Angela's Sigrun Evardsdottir and in their profession as hirdman and scout respectively. David mentioned that he felt the skald, Amund Torkelsson, was pretty useless, until they encountered a situation where he realised that his magic (Galdr) would save the day, and that's how things shaped up. I definitely need to remember to devote more time to his character, and have some sort of major plot or minor story arc come his way.
Overall, the players told me they had a good time with the game session, and are enjoying the spin on this adventure that I've given it. They're also enjoying the mythology of the Norse game world, finding it more challenging than the standard European stuff that is so prevalent in most fantasy rpgs. What strikes me most about the players and their characters is the relationships that have developed between the player characters, and some of the conflict that has come out of these relationships and the game situations they've found themselves in.
As for me, I'm enjoying running the game, as the simple mechanics are helping me given my current state of health and mental frame of mind. So... I'm rather looking forward to next week's game session. :)