Saga of the Northlands

Session 1: The Skjolsung Saga Begins
In Which The Expedition Reaches The New World

The expedition begins! The large group from clan Skjolsung boards their three longboats, leaving Iceland with the western coast of Greenland as their goal. On the first day, the winds carry them into a part of the sea full of ice floes. On the floes are a bunch of walruses. The three boats face a number of challenges getting through the floes: moving and crumbling ice floes, walruses getting in the way, rowers tiring, and narrow passes through the floes. One of their boats, The Swift Wind, scrapes against two floes, breaking all the oars on one side against one and breaching the hull against another. Otherwise, the three boats survive and are able to continue along their way.

The following three days pass uneventfully while the party makes good use of the downtime, some of them working on their skills and proficiencies to help them when they get to their new settlement.

On the fourth day, some of the party notice some creature(s) in the water alongside The Swift Wind. It’s a sea serpent! It leaps out of the water and attacks. The passengers counterattack while the serpent encircles the ship. Kulgadi the runirblað (one of the jarls) gives the serpent a mighty wound with his Blade of Blood and Ulfric the bardagamaður hacks it with his axe. Skogul the skald uses her music to inspire courage in the defenders. The goði Asa Ericson (also a jarl) nearly kills the serpent, but his attack sends it into spasms that damage the boat and smack some of the people around.

After the four days, the expedition finally sees land not covered with ice where they could possibly land their vessels has to decide where would be best to establish a settlement.

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Session 2: Exploring The New World
In Which Many Later Events Are Foreshadowed

The expedition leaders decide to enter a fjord toward the southern end of a strip of the western coast that had been scouted out earlier. Farther along the fjord and around the bend, they chance upon a shipwreck with dead bodies. It appears to be of Germanic or possibly Anglo-Saxon origin.

There are 6 or 7 bodies that have been there a while, some looking battle-wounded. The wounds appear to be a couple days older than the wreck, which likely happened 3 days to over a week ago. Searching the bodies yields some axes, some coinage, and other sundry items.

Searching below, they find two iron chests. Ulfric bashes the lock on one to open it. Inside are some bundles of cloth, bars of silver, and bits of amber and furs. Skogur the utlendr drengr opens the other and finds a bag, some badly spoiled rations, and mini barrels of ale. The rations smell quite foul. In the bag are some silver pieces, some hacksilver, and a sapphire. He pockets the sapphire. Under the bag he finds a folded parchment that contains a map of the Atlantic coast of Europe with lines that may indicate their ship routes.

They take time to do a more thorough search of the ship and find nothing else. Apparently, the poor souls had been raided. In keeping with their superstitions to prevent the dead from coming back, they set the entire ship on fire and continue on to find a place for their settlement.

After the expedition lands on a beach, Skogur goes off on his own to scout and heads toward some forests in the far distance. He heads uphill to the top of the fjord, finally seeing some arctic wildlife along the way. At the top of the cliffs, he casts Lay of the Land to see more than his human eyes can perceive. There are rivers everywhere and some lakes farther inland. The land gets lets rocky farther inland, about 15 or so miles away. But there appear to be no settlements. As he’s using his spell, he notes that three ravens have landed on a branch nearby and are watching him. It seems out of the ordinary, but he doesn’t really pay them any mind . . . until they are joined by three more, making six. He then decides to head back toward the main group. The now seven ravens watch him leave. Once they are out of sight, he hides then tries to creep back to spy on them. But he makes some noise, causing them to stare at him again. There are now nine. Weird! He leaves again and catches up with the rest of the party in a half hour. He shares what he observed during the casting of his spell, but only shares the raven story with his sister, Skogul.

The reunited party heads toward one of the lakes and reach it by nightfall. The land is flatter, and the area around the lake has wildlife. They set up camp while Skogur and Skogul go off to scout. At the camp, the party notices some ducks swimming out in the lake in a continuous circle, over and over and over again. This is weird. Ulfric throws a stone into the water near the ducks, but they ignore it and keep swimming. Even weirder.

Skogul and Skogur circumnavigate the lake, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. They return after nightfall and find that no fish have been caught. Disgusted, Skogur goes back out to hunt deer and brings one back for the evening meal. The party points out the weird duck behavior. They keep throwing rocks at them, but it doesn’t faze them. They decide to leave them alone and go to sleep. That night, they hear wolves howling, but the night otherwise passes uneventfully.

The ducks are still circling in the morning. They manage to hit one with a rock, but it doesn’t react. Weirdness! Ulfric tries to take some lake water in a flask, but it flows up and out and back into the lake. BEYOND WEIRD!!

Understandably, they decide to strike camp and head to another lake Skogur saw. They arrive about mid-morning. It turns out to actually be three lakes connected by a river. Skogur tests the first lake’s water and discovers that it is fresh, but it’s hot! The river away from the lake, however, is cooler. The first two lakes themselves seem to be generating heat, probably from natural hot springs underneath. Skogur swims to the other side of the river . . . and is reminded of why jumping into the water in very cold weather is a BAD idea! After warming up, he scouts around on the other side, finding nothing out of the ordinary.

They decide to check out the land to the south. Along the way, they hear wolves howling. Then they start seeing them in the distance, pacing around and growling. There are six of them. Skogul lights a torch to keep the animals at bay. The wolves seem pretty emaciated, which is odd, since there appears to be enough game around. It would explain, though, why they are stalking the party. After a while, the predators give up and depart.

The party comes upon some land that looks a bit more arable, a pretty nice meadow. It is now early afternoon, and it starts drizzling. Skogur casts Lay of the Land again. There is more forest eastward closer to the glaciers. The meadow is rather large and bounded by hilly ground. They are excited, as this place seems to a good candidate for their first settlement!

They quickly make some long-term plans and spend the next several days moving the expedition to the meadow to establish their settlement. They also make arrangements to send one of the ships back to Iceland for more supplies, more craftsmen, and a couple smaller ships that can navigate the narrower rivers.

Six days pass, during which our heroes rest, train, and work on settling into their new home.

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Session 3: The Spirits Of Greenland
In Which Allies And An Enemy Are Made

After making some preparations and giving instructions to the rest of the expedition, the party heads back to the mysterious lake. Asa casts Detect Magic on the lake and notices that there is something magical underneath the middle of the lake, beneath the area the ducks are circling. It’s some type of illusion, but he can’t determine what the magic is exactly.

While there, Ulfric and Eirlif get into a bit of a tussle, which results in Eirlif being thrown head first into the the middle of the lake. He immediately freezes in a block of ice . . . upside down. Skögur, thinking quickly, fastens his grappling hook to his rope and manages to latch onto the ice with it. The party starts pulling him to shore. When they get him to about thirty feet from shore, more ice forms and they can’t pull him any closer.

Kulgan casts a Fiery Bolt at the ice encasing Eirlif and breaks off a big chunk. That allows Eirlif to start breaking himself out. Unfortunately, water pours into the cracks he makes. But he’s able to move enough to cast Aganazzar’s Scorcher, which melts enough ice to break his ice floe free so the party can start pulling him toward shore again. Unfortunately, the steam thus created scalds him.

After Ulfric comes back from chopping firewood, Eirlif throws a piece of the wood in the water. It surprisingly sinks. He takes another piece, places it in the water, and casts Buoyant Lifting on it. He then sends it floating toward the ducks. It floats most of the way just fine, except for a couple of spots where it sinks and then resurfaces. In the center, it continues to float until the spell expires.

Kulgan believes there must be some spirits here (probably associated with the Vanir) that need to be appeased with an offering. So Skögur finds some rabbits, which Asa then sacrifices. They prepare a meal, and the whole party eats. Then Asa appoints Skøgul to go out into the lake to complete the ritual by pouring the blood into the water. About 5-10 feet in, the water freezes around her feet. She pours the blood in there, and the ice melts. A smiling face appears in the water, and a voice thanks them for the sacrifice and tells them that they are welcome and will no longer be troubled here.

Skögur casts Lay of the Land and sees where there is some forest, which the group decides to head for. It takes about 8 hours to get there. Skögur starts scouting ahead in the forest, looking for animal tracks. He finds tracks of wolves and bears and also some unnaturally large hoof marks. He also notices his friend(s) the raven(s) nearby. Meanwhile, the party sets up camp. Skögur returns and shares what he’s found, about the large tracks, not the ravens.

He leads everyone back into the forest, following the large hoof tracks. As it gets darker, he leads them toward a clearing. A little later, he sees torchlight in the distance that appears to be moving away from them. They wait for it to go away, then continue on to the clearing and bed down for the night.

During first watch, Ulfric notices the torchlight in the distance. He feels compelled to go toward it and does, until he reaches the edge of the forest and realizes that it’s a bad idea. He returns to the camp and the rest of his watch is uneventful. Skøgul is up next. She notices during her watch that the grass and mushrooms in the clearing have grown longer. And about 3-½ hours in she sees what appears to be two eyes in the forest. They eventually get closer, and she creeps up to cast Detect Attitude. The spell reveals the outline of the creature. It is a large deer-like shape with wings and fangs. And it’s hostile! She orders it to leave or prepare to fight. The creature speaks. She rouses her campmates and attempts to find out what the thing wants. It says that it wants their deaths. Then it roars, causing unreasoning fear in everyone but Ulfric and Kulgan, who run up to engage the creature, while everyone else bolts.

Ulfric and Kulgan damage the creature, which angers it. But it can’t attack back since it apparently can’t enter the clearing. It instead goes after the nearest fleeing party member, Asa. Kulgan goes to intercept it and misses. The creature attacks Skøgul from behind, striking her down and killing her instantly. Kulgan lands a killing blow, cleaving it in twain. The fear effect ends. They pay their respects to Skøgul and raise a cairn above her in the clearing. Taking trophies from the creature’s body, they move on.

They return to the settlement to restock and (for an unseemly brief time) mourn the passing of their party member. They then lead another party from the settlement to the forest to get lumber. After getting the woodcutters started, they leave them the next morning to continue exploring. Along their journey, they start hearing music that sounds like a fiddle. They come to a river and find a naked young man in the water playing a fiddle, quite well, in fact. He looks Norse, like them. He appears to be another Vanir spirit.

Asa approaches the spirit and greets it. The creature asks what brings them to his river. He identifies himself as a musician. He calls himself Fossergrim (a river spirit). He invites them to join him in a concert. The party is hesitant, but the spirit tries to entice them. He pulls out a flute and a harp from behind him. He sighs and complains of not wanting to be lonely any longer. Ulfric relents and accepts the harp and starts playing. He actually plays surprisingly well. He welcomes Ulfric to come back to play again. He also lowers the river a bit to allow the party to cross. He offers to teach them music later . . . after an appropriate offering. They ask him about the torchlights. He is aware of them. The bearers come by occasionally and dance to his music. He is also familiar with the giant deer-like creature they killed. “He comes by often.” But there have been no other humans for many centuries.

Skögur casts lay of the land and sees forests all the way to the mountains far beyond. He also sees a couple of clearings along the way. They decide to head back to the river and camp near the Fossergrim, who is only too happy to see them again. He serenades them to sleep that night.

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Session 4: Trolls In The Forest
In Which The Foreshadowing Concludes

In the morning, Skögur decides that they should head toward the nearest clearing. He tells the party to meet him there and then heads off, leaving a trail for them. A couple hours later, the party strikes camp and heads after him.

Skögur arrives at the clearing. The trees surrounding it are much thicker than before. He sees nothing out of the ordinary, so he fades back into the forest to await his companions.

Along the party’s path toward the clearing, Asa notices that the blazes Skögur has been leaving on the trees have been getting smaller. As they near the clearing, they encounter snow on the ground. Suspicious, Asa chops some bark off a tree, and it immediately heals over. That would explain the small size of the blazes. Ulfric yells for Skögur, who is still hiding from the party, watching. Entering the clearing, Asa notices some human-sized shoe prints. He looks up and sees a snow-covered hump a couple feet in diameter. Ulfric and Kulgan investigate, and it turns out to be the remains of a campfire. Ulfric finds tracks of at least three people leading off in a northerly direction. Skögur now decides to emerge and join the party. After some discussion, they decide to follow the tracks, as they could be a threat.

Skögur follows the tracks even better after they emerge from the snow. He sees now five distinct sets of tracks. Eirlif notices that the plants to the left are a bit taller than the ones on the right side of the path. As they continue, the difference in plant size goes away. The tracks eventually start to fade after about an hour of walking and stop completely at a thick clump of two trees grown together. Searching around the clump, Skögur notices that the tracks begin again some distance beyond the trees, heading in the same northerly direction. Eirlif observes that the clump of trees doesn’t appear to be natural. Skögur scrapes off some bark, and it heals back. The other trees in the area exhibit the same behavior.

Kulgan attempts to communicate with the spirits of the forest, but no one responds. Eirlif tries to walk through the tree clump. It doesn’t work. They continue following the tracks.

About fifteen minutes later, they come to another group of trees, this time five in a row. A Detect Magic spell from Asa reveals nothing. Kulgan starts hacking down one of the trees. The wound immediately heals, and Asa detects a slight amount of necromancy.

They continue along, and five minutes later, they come to a veritable wall of 13 trees blocking their path. Skögur locates the tracks again on the other side of the trees, but looking off to the side he now sees three new trees that weren’t there before. Skögur decides to climb a nearby tree to get an aerial view. Up at the top, he sees a gigantic semicircle of trees along their path to the north.

They continue and reach the next wall o’ trees in two minutes. Skögur climbs again and now sees a circle of trees blocking their path in all directions! And there are additional trees popping up in the distance. He ties ropes in the trees to allow the party to climb up the trees and down the other side. However, he encounters a tree-like creature on the other side that speaks to him in a voice like crackling branches, demanding to know what it would take to get them to stop. He apologizes and talks with the creature. He leaves the conversation with the understanding that they need to pay their respects before being allowed to pass. They all offer some of their blood. The tree creatures tell them that is barely acceptable. They clear the path south for them, but the way north remains blocked until they learn how to show proper respect.

They decide to head back to the river. Along the way, they pass by another clearing. They decide to check it out. In it is a ring of standing stones with inscriptions. They decide to come back another time. They make it back to the Fossergrim, who joyfully bids them welcome. They tell the spirit about the tree creatures they encountered, but he doesn’t know much about them, much less what would appease them.

They stay with their spirit friend for the night. In the morning, he warns them that some trolls wandered nearby that night. They then head back to the logging party they left at the edge of the forest to check up on them. About halfway through their journey, they are attacked. Seven trolls—creatures that look like 3-foot tall ugly babies made of clay that have been stretched out of proportion—come at the party from three sides.

Kulgan casts Decomposition. Skögur climbs a tree to get a better vantage point from which to rain down arrows at them. The trolls are strong. One hits Ulfric with his bare fist and sends him flying 20 feet back! He then gets knocked unconscious, and another troll picks him up to start carrying him off. One troll climbs Skögur’s tree and attacks him. Eirlif casts Fiery Burst at the troll threatening Asa. Another troll grabs Asa and carries him off. Kulgan kills a troll with his Blade of Blood. Another Fiery Burst from Eirlif drops another troll. Kulgan kills a third troll, and Skögur kills the troll in the tree with him. Kulgan drops another troll, then runs after the troll carrying off Ulfric. The now-free Skögur takes aim at the fleeing troll and drops him with an arrow. Kulgan then retrieves Ulfric’s limp form and tends to his wounds until Asa can arrive to heal him.

They continue on their way back to the logging camp. They are just minutes away when they hear some rustling behind them. They prepare for another fight on a nearby hillock. Three trolls emerge from the forest. Skögur starts firing arrows. Kulgan casts Kelgore’s Firebolt. Asa casts Healer’s Vision to increase his combat abilities. As they rush in, Eirlif blasts one with Fiery Burst. Kulgan slashes one, which then impales itself on Ulfric’s spear. Kulgan casts Kelgore’s Firebolt at another incoming troll. Kulgan and Asa flank the troll and knock it unconscious. Ulfric drops the last one with his spear.

They continue the last few minutes and make it out of the forest to their countrymen, who inquire what happened to them. They tell them about the trolls. They’ve been logging for eight days and have quite a bit of lumber now. They tell the loggers to stop their activity for now and head back to the settlement. They camp overnight. During the night, two trolls approach the camp but flee when defenders charge them with weapons drawn.

It takes them two days to get back to the settlement, just in time to welcome back the ship they sent back two weeks prior.


Notable Quotes and Quotable Notes:

“My sister got run over by a reindeer . . . “ — the DM, about Skøgul’s death last session

Rick as Ulfric: “I knock on the tree.” Van: <eyebrow> “With your axe???”

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Session 5: A Nocturnal Troll Ambush
In Which Trolls Exhibit Surprising Discipline And Coordination

The people who have been farming in the new settlement have been complaining of strange dreams. Since the settlers have been so focused on constructing the walls and longhouses, they are low on provisions. So directions are given to focus more on food production.

Eirliff, Kulgan, and Asa head off to the magical pond. Along the way, they hear some bellowing in the distance. It seems to be coming from the northeast of where they are, about a quarter mile away. They attempt to sneak over toward it, but not very quietly. As they get nearer, the bellowing stops. They get to a clearing, where a huge mammoth and its baby are standing. They decide to slowly back away from the monstrous beast. Once they are out of sight, the mammoth resumes its bellowing. They look for tracks in the area but only find the two sets of mammoth tracks. Apparently, they got separated from their herd and are looking for them.

They continue onto the lake and reach it an hour or so later. Eirliff fries a nearby rabbit with Fiery Burst to use as an offering for the spirit. They tell the spirit that they bring are newcomers and hope to include them in the friendship with this spirit. It informs them that the newcomers themselves must prepare the sacrifice. Kulgan asks the spirit about the farmers’ strange dreams. It thinks there might some connection with the Alfar, as it is getting close to the time of year for the change of power from winter to summer among them. But the spirit can’t tell them where that transfer of power takes place. They later return to the settlement.

Meanwhile, Ulfric and Draenger take the farmers off to the nearby river. While Ulfric fishes, Draenger talks to the farmers about their strange dreams. He gets the impression that the spirits are telling them that it’s not yet time to plant. And it also seems that whatever the spirits were talking about is going to happen in the meadow where the settlement is situated. They decide to leave off from farming and instead send a few farmers out to look for other arable land to farm.

In the middle of that night at the settlement, Ulfric is rudely awakened by the feeling of hands around his throat. He sees two small orange eyes. He yells out and starts fighting the creature sitting on his chest. Asa and Eirliff wake up and also see small creatures sitting on them. They all manage to knock the creatures off. Finally, Kulgan and Draenger awake to find creatures on them as well. The little creatures all have small orange eyes and mouths full of sharp teeth. Asa hacks at his with his axe, splitting it in half. Eirliff’s Fiery Burst lights up the night, and he recognizes that they are goblins. Ulfric impales his goblin on the end of his spear, killing it. Kulgan kills his with a single swipe of his axe. The remaining three goblins’ morale breaks, and they attempt to flee, provoking attacks from the party. Two get killed, but the third makes it out of the tent. Draenger pursues but sees a number of other goblins in the encampment. He yells for the party to come out and help with the goblins while he runs toward the nearest one and kills it.

The rest of the party exits the tent and starts slaughtering the monsters. But more goblins start swarming in. Skogur gets back up against the tent and grappled by some goblins. Then they hear some loud drumming coming from one side of the encampment. That is apparently a bad thing, because the goblins start grinning. The battle starts going mildly better for the party, although a couple have gotten poisoned by the goblin bites. The drumming starts to get louder. Unfortunately, Draenger gets killed by a goblin late in the fight. At that point, the last remaining goblin’s morale breaks and he runs. Asa runs him down and hits him, and Skogur shoots it with an arrow. Asa continues and kills it. The drumming, however, continues.

The party takes time to put on their armor and heal up. They then go check out the neighboring tents. In the first one, they see a bunch of goblins killing the occupants. It’s completely and eerily silent. Eirliff kills one goblin with a Fiery Burst. The party moves in to finish them off. Meanwhile, Skogur sneaks off to find the source of the drumming.

In the meantime, Skogur finds a lone goblin outside the settlement banging on a drum. He looks a bit higher-class than the other goblins. Next to him is an ettin. Skogur backs up closer to the encampment and looses an arrow, hitting the goblin, who just continues drumming after a brief interruption. The ettin starts moving toward him, then Skogur kills the goblin with another arrow. The goblin attackers now seem a lot easier to defeat.

After the battle, they find that the guards posted around the encampment were all asleep. Some enchantment, perhaps? Skogur returns with the gobin drum. He doesn’t tell the party about the nice cloak he found on the goblin, though. He had stuffed that into his backpack. Eirliff takes a preliminary look at the drum and finds runes carved into it—enchanted!

The party harvests poison glands and claws from the goblins. They also look into making goblin jerky to help offset their lack of food.

(Everyone levels up!)

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Session 6: Into The Troll Cave
In Which Several Locations Are Explored

The next day, Álfráðr, a seidmann, joins the party. They (sans Asa) decide to travel to a cave that Skogur noticed when he last cast Lay of the Land earlier. It takes them 6 hours to get there. Skogur finds goblin tracks around the cave. Apparently, the goblins passed by this area at some point and may have even entered the nearby cave. Álfráðr sticks his head in the cave and notices something strange—the light from his Diadem of Purelight dims considerably inside but returns to normal outside. Skogur and Álfráðr decide to search the area around the cave, while Ulfric and Kulgan squeeze into the cave to investigate. Eirliff remains outside and prepares a rune to cast Earthlock, in case they need to seal off the cave.

It is completely dark in the cave, and they have to walk stooped over, but Ulfric and Kulgan push forward regardless until it opens up somewhat after about 30 seconds of scuttling down the narrow passage. They light a torch to see in the darkness, but it experiences the same dimming effect that Álfráðr’s magical light did. The passage splits, and they head to the left. It takes them downward in a spiral. Kulgan hears someone/thing else in there with them scuffling around. They start to move more quietly. Unfortunately, whatever else is in there with them is also moving quietly, and they no longer hear anything.

Outside, Skogur and Álfráðr find a very small hole in the ground, deliberately hidden in some bushes. Álfráðr sticks his head inside and finds that it opens into a chamber with what looks like handholds carved in the wall.

Back in the cave, Ulfric and Kulgan hear some movement up ahead. They come up on three very surprised goblins, all dressed similarly to the ones who attacked their encampment. They kill two, but the third screams and runs away down the circling passage. They pursue, and Kulgan catches up to him, so it turns to face him. He kills it and then stomps on its face. They hear more up ahead. Kulgan picks up the goblin and flings it down the passage. After a brief pause, nine goblins rush toward them yelling and screaming. During the combat, some of them crawl along the wall to try to grapple Kulgan, but they aren’t very effective. Kulgan gets bit in the struggle. The pair kills nearly all of the goblins, but they decide that they need to get out— and fast! Kulgan kills the last one as he bull rushes through him. More goblins pursue, so Ulfric turns and hurls a dead goblin at one. After that, the goblins eventually give up the pursuit and run back for reinforcements.

Outside, Álfráðr and Skogur notice that the light is beginning to fade until it’s like twilight—but it’s only noon. They then hear some scratching, chittering, and running around in the hole. Then they’re attacked by goblins crawling out of the hole. Álfráðr gets hit in his face by some filthy goblin claws. In the ensuing battle, Skogur also gets clawed. Five goblins now surround them. Skogul kills one with Lightning Blade, but he then succumbs to the poisonous goblin claw attacks and starts to severely weaken. Even so, they manage to defeat all of them. They weave and smash the goblin bodies together and then use them to stop up the hole. They then run back to the cave mouth.

Álfráðr and Skogur arrive at the cave mouth right about the same time that Kulgan and Ulfric emerge. After some time, they hear another group of goblins running up the passageway toward the cave entrance. But it’s too late. Eirliff finishes preparing his rune and casts Earthlock, sealing the entrance permanently. A lone goblin, however, makes it out before the cave seals, and Eirlff hits the hapless creature with a Fiery Burst, and Ulfric follows suit with his axe. The goblin chitters something in its language, which no one understands. When Eirliff fiery Bursts it again, it runs. When it gets to the edge of the twilight, the sunlight turns it to ash, much to everyone’s surprise.

As they tend to their wounds, Eirliff seals the other hole. Álfráðr attempts to heal Skogur’s weakening condition but ends up botching the job and makes it even worse. They need to head back to their settlement to get him better treatment. Back there, the healers are miraculously able to ameliorate some of the poison damage done to Skogur. The party decides to stay around the settlement for a while until he heals up completely

While back home, they check in with the priest who was investigating the Alfar issue. He discovered it would most likely involve some sort of sacrifice—of people or of a very large creature. The fact that they are settled near the meadow is probably not a good thing for them. They could end up being the sacrifice! He recommends that they move, at least until after the equinox. It’s only two weeks away, so they decide to spend a couple days scouting the other side of the river for a new site while Skogur convalesces.

Eirliff and Kulgan find a slightly elevated area by the forest that looks like a good spot. Álfráðr’s group finds a not-so-great area near the fjords. While out there, though, they also spot three Anglo-Saxon ships in the distance sailing toward land. But they can’t figure out if they’re only a few days out or a couple weeks. Another group of soldiers went directly south of the river but found nothing suitable. They decide initially to move to the area near the forest that Eirliff and Kulgan found.

In the meantime, Skogur has fully healed, so he offers to scout for a more permanent settlement area. Ulfric takes the boat down to the men they have posted on the fjord. He tells them to look out for the Anglo-Saxons and sends the boat back to the settlement.

Skogur goes out to scout, accompanied by ravens, naturally. He scouts the ravines and returns to the settlement. The next day, he brings the resident cartographer with him. No ravens this trip, interestingly. He has the mapmaker mark possible locations as they go. Back at the settlement the next day, he shares the map with the military personnel to decide on a defensible spot for relocation. It’s decided that they will move to the elevated site they found earlier near the forest. It isn’t quite as far, it’s close to the river and the meadow’s arable land, and its relative height would allow them to see incoming threats at a distance. They start making plans to move there and later build fortifications.

Down on the fjord, Ulfric and the soldiers beach the larger boat, tilt it, and attempt to disguise it. The three Anglo-Saxon ships have split up, and one enters the fjord. That prompts Ulfric to send a soldier back to the settlement to warn them.

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Session 7: Danger In The Fjord
In Which The Party Nearly Gets Carried Away

The settlement move continues. The party decides to reinforce their new encampment with a bunch of strawmen around the perimeter to make it look like their force is much larger than it actually is. Skogur spends time scouting and spying on the Anglo-Saxons approaching their landing place. Ulfric also hides with his gang and watches the Anglo-Saxons.

When the invaders arrive, they start examining the Viking ship that Ulfric disguised. Unfortunately, they are not fooled, and they start looking around for others. Skogur and Ulfric’s party continue to watch them all that day and into the night.

That night, Skogur is awoken by the fluttering of ravens sitting on him and otherwise poking around his body. They are bold but turn reticent when he tries to pet one. He attempts to befriend one, but it rejects him and rolls its eyes.

Meanwhile, Ulfric sees a white horse with glowing eyes step out of the fjord. His men start making comments about riding the horse. The Anglo-Saxons seem fixated on it as well but aren’t making any moves toward it. Ulfric orders them all to stand their ground, but two of them can’t resist. The others manage to grapple them to the ground. They start getting noisy. One of the Anglo-Saxons also can’t resist and gets on the horse. The horse trots with its rider into the fjord, and a little later it returns . . . without its rider. Shortly afterward, one of the Anglo-Saxons apparently hears the commotion from Ulfric’s party and starts heading over toward them.

Meanwhile, Skogur decides to head back to camp because of the ravens. They naturally follow him.

Ulfric sends his men to hide in the trees flanking the approaching Anglo-Saxon. The man sees something and levels his spear. They jump on him and manage to pin him to the ground. He is knocked out cold before he’s able to cry out. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxon camp is mobilized and are distracted by the horse, not noticing that one of their number is missing.

Fortunately, Kulgan received inspiration earlier that the entire party should head down to check on Ulfric. Along his way back to the encampment, Skogur ends up having to take a few minutes to rest. He notices that the ravens fly around him in a circle while he rests. They continue the circular formation when he gets up to continue his journey. The ravens peel off when he gets in sight of Kulgan’s party. He joins them and tells them that the invaders are apparently a settlement force similar to their own, not an army. He also tells them about the mysterious horse. Eirliff identifies it as a nokkja, a shape-shifting water horse. They pick up the pace to get to Ulfric.

Ulfric sees the Anglo-Saxons light torches and surround the horse. Unfortunately, he and ten of his men give into the horse’s strange power. The five remaining soldiers all jump on Ulfric to hold him back, but they are unable. At this point, the party arrives and starts attacking the nokkja.

Kulgan casts a spell on Ulfric, which enlarges him to twice his normal size. Skogur starts firing arrows at the horse. The nokkja breaks free of its attackers and joins up with Ulfric. Álfraðr imbues himself with incarnum to increase his speed, and then runs up to Ulfric. He also asks the Anglo-Saxons, in their own language, to help keep Ulfric from getting on the horse. Eirliff casts Fengut on the horse, but that doesn’t impede it. The nokkja grabs Ulfric with its mouth to try to toss him onto its back, but Álfraðr smashes its mouth before it can complete the action. Unfortunately, Ulfric climbs onto the horse anyway, but because of his size he can’t quite sit on it very well. One of the Anglo-Saxons hits the nokkja with a torch and, much to everyone’s surprise, the creature turns completely black!

Kulgan runs up and hits the creature with his large axe. Eirliff Fiery Bursts the nokkja, which also ends up burning Ulfric. The horse turns toward the water, with Ulfric somewhat on its back, which gives the defenders opportunity to attack it again. The horse overruns the people around it and heads to the water. Asa gets some rope and attempts to grapple Ulfric, just barely managing to get the rope around him with Kulgan’s assistance. Skogur lets loose an arrow at Ulfric, hoping to get him to break free of the compulsion. It works! He snaps out of it and finds himself entangled in rope on top of a black horse, with an arrow in his back. “Skogur!”

The nokkja attempts to move Ulfric into the water, but he is held back by the rope. Ulfric then impales the creature from behind with his enlarged spear, causing massive bleeding. Eirliff Fiery Bursts it, but it seems to do no damage. Kulgan steps up and hits it with Shocking Grasp on his axe. That kills it dead. The ten other men under the compulsion break free of it.

The Anglo-Saxons thank them for saving their lives, and the party strongly encourages them to be on their way because the land is extremely dangerous and their landing party isn’t strong enough to handle it. The Anglo-Saxons leave them with some of their supplies as thanks.

With the danger averted, the party decides to return to their new encampment (the move is now done). After they arrive, Kulgan and Álfraðr start feeling pretty bad, Kulgan more so than Álfraðr. Kulgan is bedridden that day. They confirm that it’s not poison, but they’re not really sure what it is. They think it has something to do with the goblins. Eirliff examines the goblin claws they collected and determines that they appear to be disease-bearing. He doesn’t know what sickness it is, though. Skogur goes off to look for herbs he thinks might help. Then he and Eirlliff attempt to create some sort of medicine from it to heal Kulgan. They manage to create five doses. They use one on Álfraðr, and it works. So they use it on Kulgan, and his symptoms start to clear.

The day (night) of the equinox has finally arrived.

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