Encounter at Farside - Into the Woods
rating: 0+x

By HoratioAtTheBridge

Into the Woods

At the farm, the players can quickly see that something big happened. The fence to the pig wallow is broken down and there's churned up mud and blood scattered all over the place as if a battle had occurred. The player characters can hear King Truffle Snuffle occasionally grunt and squeal in pain under the porch. There's a clear trail leading towards the woods.

NPCs

Hobgoblins - Use the Hobgoblin QC for these characters.

These reptilian creatures have blue-green scales and are armed with bone spears. They aren't particularly bright or brave, but do have a cruel streak that drives them in battle. They have the following Intimacies:

Defining Principles:
Defining Ties: Paiman, the Fae Commander (Fear)
Major Principles: Cruelty
Major Ties:
Minor Principles: Gluttony
Minor Ties: Other Hobgoblins (Blame Them for Any Trouble)

Half-Ear - Use the bandit QC for this character.

Half-Ear lives up to her name, having lost the titular appendage while wrestling a hog on her farm. She lives alone, taking a rugged pride in her independence. She has a long-running feud with Sweet Soybean Pod. Her children moved to the village and keep nagging her to sell the pigs and move in with them. She refuses to give Sweet Soybean Pod the satisfaction of seeing her leave. She has the following Intimacies:

Defining Principles: Stubborn Independence
Defining Ties: Sweet Soybean Pod (Love to Hate)
Major Principles:
Major Ties: Children and Grandchildren (Love 'Em, But Boy Can They Be Annoying)
Minor Principles:
Minor Ties: Chomper, her truffle-hunting dog (Valued Partner)

At the Farm

The players may attempt to gather a little more information about what happened before setting off into the woods.

Examining the Tracks

The tracks can be followed with a Perception + Survival check.

Basic Success (1+) - This is adequate to follow the trail into the woods. This also reveals that the tracks are mostly from pigs and that there is another trail of tracks leading to Half-Ear's farm.

Great Success (3+) - Additional tracks can be made out beneath those of the pigs. These tracks come from three different kinds of creatures: a human, a dog, and something that leaves reptilian tracks but walks like a human.

Exceptional Success (5+) - The tracker identifies the additional tracks as belonging to exactly one human, exactly one dog, and exactly three reptilian creatures. The reptilian creatures are identified as Hobgoblins.

The reptilian tracks can be examined with Intelligence + Lore or Occult.

Great Success (3+) - The tracks are identified as belonging to Hobgoblins.

  • Iron Shirt may attempt to identify the tracks with Intelligence + War. He identifies the tracks as belonging to Hobgoblins with only a single success since he has fought and tracked the creatures before.

King Truffle Snuffle

A Charisma + Survival or Medicine roll with 3 successes is required to overcome King Truffle Snuffle's pain-boosted Resolve to get him out from under the porch. Alternatively he can be dragged out as a Strength 3 Feat of Strength, but this aggravates his wounds and increases the difficulty of treating him by one. He also lashes out at anyone attempting to do so, making a 6 dice decisive attack that inflicts 3 dice of lethal damage. A basic success (1+) on a Dexterity + Medicine check is required to stabilize King Truffle Snuffle and set him on the path to recovery.

King Truffle Snuffle's wounds may be examined with an Intelligence + Medicine Diagnose action.

Basic Success (1+) - In addition to the wounds from the spear, King Truffle Snuffle seems to have been bitten and clawed.

The bite and claw marks may be examined with an Intelligence + Survival roll, with with Intelligence + Medicine at +1 difficulty.

Basic Success (1+) - The claw wounds resemble marks that would be left by a bird talon or lizard claw, except from a creature roughly the size of a human being. The bite marks look more like a lizard's bite than a beak wound.

Great Success (3+) - The wounds do not match any known animals in the region.

Exceptional Success (5+) - The wounds were inflicted by a Hobgoblin.

Half-Ear's Farm

Half-Ear's farm is eerily silent. The pig pens are empty, though the gate is closed, and the house is dark and still.

As the players approach, have them roll Perception + Awareness as a passive examination.

Basic Success (1+) - The player character spots a peg driven into the ground outside where Half-Ear's dog would normally be sleeping. There's no rope attached to it or nearby. If they go inside the house, this is enough to notice that everything seems to be in order. Nothing is broken or overturned, though the bed has not been made.

Exceptional Success (5+) - The player character notices that the coat rack is empty, there are scuff marks by the door where a heavy walking stick would normally rest, and there's an empty hook by the door where a lantern might hang. Putting this together, they can conclude that Half-Ear got up on her own while it was still dark and left the house under her own volition.

The players may examine the house with Perception + Investigation.

Basic Success (1+) - The player characters determine the information revealed under the exceptional success for Perception + Awareness.

The players may examine the tracks near the house with Perception + Survival.

Basic Success (1+) - There are clear tracks showing that Half-Ear and her dog walked away from the farm in the company of something with reptilian tracks. The reptilian tracks may be further investigated as above.

Exceptional Success (5+) - The player character determines that Half-Ear emerged from her home, untied her dog, and then encountered the reptilian creatures (which the player identifies as Hobgoblins) near the pig pen. She then opened the pig pen, led the pigs out, and joined the main line of tracks towards Sweet Soybean Pod's farm and the woods.

Special Note - Appealing to Herren

At this point, the players have a bit more evidence that there are Fae about. If they have not yet brought this to Herren's attention, they may think to do so now. He has a similar reaction to being confronted about the spear. He'll dismiss any concerns (using Willpower to enter a Decision Point to reject any request made of him) and then threaten everyone to drop it. The footprints and wounds are a little harder to dismiss, but Herren simply says that they're some dumb beast and that Half-Ear took the opportunity of their predation to steal her rival's animals. The player characters lose any official resources to continue to pursue the investigation, but may pursue it on their own.

If the players bring this evidence back after having been told to drop the subject, Herren flies into a rage. His authority has now been threatened and he must respond. He orders all of the player characters associated with the military (Kyushin, Iron Shirt, Bloody-Handed Shen, and Eagle Talon) to be beaten for insubordination. He is within his rights to do so. Kyushin may attempt a roll on Charisma + Presence to claim that he ordered the others to take on the task, and if he exceeds Herren's Resolve then only he is beaten. Herren orders a more severe beating in this case, however. The normal beating inflicts two levels of bashing damage, while the severe beating inflicts four. Furthermore, all of the characters are ordered to stay in the town. Violating this order would mean abandoning their post and execution. Ever-Blooming Lotus is free to investigate, but will receive no help from the Realm in doing so.

The party may attempt to bring their concerns to the townspeople. Refer to Around Town to see whom they might interact with.

Following the Trail

The pig trail is easy enough to follow, requiring no additional rolls after the roll to discover it at the farm. They only have a few hours head start on the player characters and pigs are slow, so the party will catch up by noon.

Passive Check

As they approach, have the party roll Perception + Awareness.

Basic Success (1+) - The player character catches the sound of a pig squealing, warning them that they are close to the hobgoblins.

Great Success (3+) - The player character hears Half Ear arguing with someone.

Sneaking Up

If the players ask, they may attempt to sneak up on the camp by rolling Dexterity + Stealth.

Basic Success (1+) - The hobgoblins are distracted by their meal and argument with Half-Ear, so this level of success is sufficient to catch them by surprise. Anyone who succeeds gains the benefit of an Ambush on their foes. Anyone who fails does not get close enough to attack the hobgoblins before they get their defenses up.

Developments

The hobgoblins have camped by a stream underneath a large oak tree where the herd is contentedly munching acorns, though eyeing the scene under the tree nervously. One of them is wrestling a medium sized sow with a knife in their hand. Half-Ear is has a rope tied around her neck, held by one of the hobgoblins, and her dog is tied to the tree, barking. Half-Ear is arguing with the hobgoblins that they can't kill one of the animals here or they will panic the whole herd with the smell of blood, and then they'll never get the supplies back to the army. The hobgoblins eye her suspiciously and comment on how hungry they are, and haven't they been good troopers, and don't they deserve a reward?

Note that Half-Ear's warning is quite accurate. The moment anyone inflicts lethal damage the herd panics and scatters in all directions. It will take days to retrieve them all.

The players may launch their attack at any time. If the group has access to Iron Shirt's fang, they operate as a battle group of Magnitude 1, Drill 1 using the Medium Infantry stats as a base. The hobgoblins attempt to flee the scene (use the Withdraw actions to try to open distance), but surrender as soon as two of them are crashed/injured or one is killed.

Interrogation

The bodies of hobgoblins, living or dead, constitute undeniable proof that the Fae are near. The talk of an army is also disturbing. If asked, Half-Ear says that the hobgoblins said they were sent out to get supplies for a big army nearby. The hobgoblins may be interrogated to get more information. This is resolved like making any other request using the Social Influence system. The request must be based on an intimacy, a threat, or a bribe. The player characters can play the Hobgoblins against each other with the Blame Intimacy simply by separating them and then saying "the other guy said this" and then the Hobgoblin will give the correct information at the Minor level. Attempting to get information this way is Manipulation + Presence roll.

Minor Intimacy - By drawing on a Minor intimacy or equivalent threat/bribe, the Hobgoblins are willing to reveal the name of their commander (Paiman), who is a powerful Fae Cataraphract with a mighty steed, Rock Crusher. They reveal that they a big army. They're kind of dumb so they don't know how big (they say "lots" if asked), but if the players ask if they have as many as the scale of troops in Farside, they say there are more than that, but if asked whether they have more troops than the population of Farside, they say not that many. They will verify that their mission was to get supplies for this army. If asked who Paiman works for, they say that Paiman is a great knight in service to Queen Aditi of the Glimmering Stockade. They do not know what Paiman's mission is. If asked to describe Rock Crusher, they say it is a being made of nodes of rock tied together by brilliant bands of force. They don't know much other than this, and even their stories about the Glimmering Stockade are just stuff they heard.

Ask the players to roll Intelligence + Investigation, Lore, or Occult when they hear the hobgoblins talk about Glimmering Stockade.

Great Success (3+) - The hobgoblins were only born a few weeks ago, about the time that Paiman left the Glimmering Stockade, and have never seen their homeland themselves. They are beings made of glamour!

Major Intimacy - A Major intimacy or the equivalent is required to get the Hobgoblins to say where the army is encamped, their watch patterns, their organization, or any other useful military information. If this Major intimacy is achieved with a bribe that appeals to the Hobgoblin's gluttony, they will agree to lead a force to this army.

Defining Intimacy - The Hobgoblins lack Defining intimacies other than their magical loyalty to Paiman and don't really have any other useful information to turn over in any case. However, if the players manage to Instill an Intimacy at Defining level or come up with a Defining level bribe, then the Hobgoblins will swear their eternal service to the player. Note that the Hobgoblins have already sworn their eternal service to Paiman, so take their word with a grain of salt.

Aftermath

The players now have enough evidence to force Herren to act. If they return to report, Herren is still in the inn at the time that the players get back. He spews his drink when he sees the hobgoblin. He'll demand an explanation and grows pale when he learns of the large number of hobgoblins and the rock creature ridden by the Fae Cataphract. Still, he is a Dragonblooded officer, so he pulls himself together and starts to coordinate a defense.

The inn becomes a whorl of activity as Herren orders the scale to arm themselves. It quickly becomes apparent that he plans to march out and confront the invading force. If anyone objects to this plan, he whirls on them and snarls that he is the one Chosen by the Dragons and if he wanted a mortal's opinion he would have given it to them.

There is one exception to this general mobilization - the players. Herren orders Iron Shirt and Kyushin to lead the townfolk to safety in the nearby sacred caves of Blind Cao. It may seem like he's showing an uncharacteristic concern for the people under his charge, but a successful Read Intentions action reveals that he is upset with the players for forcing his hand and he is giving them a crap job to punish them for ruining his day. He does not let Iron Shirt take his squad, making a pointed comment about not being able to afford to give up good soldiers, but does assign the other player character auxiliaries to this effort.

Proceed to Heroes Arise.

Alternatively, the players may want to investigate this threat themselves. If they proceed to track the main army, go to Further Into The Woods.

Finally, the players may attempt to get more help from the townspeople. In that case, go to Around Town.

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