Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cocanha: The Story So Far

A more accurate Cocanha map.

A few of the participants in my Feudal Anarchy (née Medieval Hack) playtest campaign have commented that it is a bit difficult to get one's legs because of the number of NPCs and factions running around, so I've decided to do a recap of events so far in the mini-campaign.  Between my home group and the G+ game I've run nine games set in my fictionalized version of the Languedoc, but this will only cover the exploits of the G+ group.

I'll start with the adventure of the Onachus since the first session was more or less a series of combats in order to test out our wound mechanics.  The Onachus was a terrible monster that laired in a swamp north of Narbona.  Many believed this immense, fire-breathing bull was none other than the creature that sired the infamous Tarrasque.  The party* took it upon themselves to slay this monster, but when they road off with a mere two men-at-arms following they found that they bit off more than they could chew.  The creature was almost 30 feet in length, and managed to slay both the men at arms and all of their horses.

Beaten and badly bloodied, they returned to Narbona and waited out the winter of 1192 healing, purchasing new horses, studying about various saints, and hiring men to operate a ballista.  In the early spring of 1193 they set off to fight the creature once again, this time with the blessing of Archishop Ramon Berengar and with men given to them by Ermengarde herself.  They decided to lure the monster to castle of Gruissan, where they quickly surrounded and defeated it.  For their valor, they were granted a keep on the island of Cocanha.

A map of their keep

There was just one problem - it was currently controlled by the bastard son of Ramon de Calanha.  If the party was going to claim its prize, it would first have to wrest it from this robber knight and his band of Yaon mercenaries.  The sailed for the island and arrived at the port city of Alcazar.  There they met the Bishop of Alcazar, and two of the party members swore a public oath to join his Brotherhood of God in order to fight heresy on the island.  Before proceeding on to their new keep, they decided to stay with a young knight who owned a market in town.

He, it turns out, was Folquet the Younger, son of the lord of the manor of Sangriu.  He was an aspiring troubadour whose clearly autobiographical songs left much to be desired.  Later they would come to believe that he once had an affair with the wife of Baron Bernatz, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  He gave them a good deal, but through their conversation they soon learned that he had some dealings with the Yaones.  After this he grew cold and retired to his chambers.

The next morning they made their way to the Castle d'Ezorre, home of Baron Bernatz the Wolf - their new liege lord. They were greeted by the baron's wormy chaplain and steward, Father Perrin.  This clearly paranoid clergyman led them to Baron Bernatz who fed them a good meal at the expense of one of his peasants, whom Bernatz asserted was the best cook out of all the ones that he owned.  The baron agreed to lend them a number of men to capture the keep and allowed them to stay at his castle and make ready.

That night, they were approached by the baron's wife who desired that they should kill the Bastard of Calanha because he had kidnapped her daughter.  She specifically desired for his head to be brought to her. The party reluctantly agreed and set out in the morning to take the keep.  They planned to have their archers and ballista fire on the keep while the cavalry would dismount and go with the infantry down a secret escape tunnel known to several of the men-at-arms. 

This plan seemed to be going well, with several of the Yaones manning the walls dying under a hail of arrows and ballista bolts; however, once the party arrived at the end of the secret passage they found only a pot of boiling oil waiting for them.  They fought their way into the court yard of the keep only to be hit by a stray ballista bolt, taking them out of the fight and killing one of them.  Luckily, the rest of their men were able to take the keep from the Yaones and to capture the Bastard of Calanha.  They found that all of the Yaones they had killed bore a strange, stylized tattoo of a snake on their left arm.

The siege of the Keep of Ervesa by Peter Robbins

Now the party had a problem before them: should the kill the bastard or ransom him back to his father?  Eventually it was decided that they would send him to Bernatz in hopes of gaining a reward.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be the worst course of action because it allowed Bernatz to gain all the money from the ransom and it served to make the Lady d'Ezorre furious with the party.

While several of the knights who captured the keep were nursing the wounds, a few of the healthier knights and a few mercenaries went to slay the legendary giant Boamundus.  This involved a lot of skulking around as they needed to enter Baron Ramon's land but were afraid at how he might react to the capture of his son. While passing through some of the hills on the southern part of the island they were ambushed by a party of Yaones that they quickly routed.  The few men they were able to kill bore the same snake tattoo as the men from the keep.

Boamundus (deceased) as rendered by Jeremy Duncan

Eventually they were able to find the hut in which the giant lived, but he was away from his home.  They left a number of javelins burried in his straw bedding and when he returned he impaled himself upon them.  Angered and bloody, he arose to try and find them only to be peppered with more javelins and arrows and stampeded by cows.  In this manor the party gained 25 head of cattle and a debate about the size of giants started on G+ that has lasted until the time of this writing.

The party sent the giant's head to Baron Ramon, and both of his hands to Bishop Uc and Baron Bernatz.  Shortly thereafter, they received an invitation from Baron Ramon to join him at a feast in Castel d'Ezorre.  The party was wary of a plot against them and declined, but offered to host the baron themselves in a fortnight.  They then decided it would be good if they "left town for a while" and went off in search of the infamous outlaw Xabier the snake.

This lead them to the land of Folquet the Elder, lord of Sangriu.  In the forest due south of his holdings they found a recently abandoned Yaon village.  They believed that the villagers had fled south into the mountains at the site of their party - which included the PCs and an additional 20 serjeants, footmen, and archers.   In the village they found a wicker hut containing a strange idol in the shape of a snake.  One of the party members who was a Hospitaller and a member of the Brotherhood of God destroyed this idol with a mallet normally reserved for driving tent pegs.  From the idol came a vaporous, curdled luminescence that flew up into the sky and eventually merged with the Sun.  After seeing this, the party burned down the village.

The idol

They turned back north to meet with Folquet the Elder, but were greeted by his steward, whom they quickly surmised was an asshole.  He informed them that the lord was ill and quarted them in one of the nicer peasant houses.  He also played music of his own composition for him, and they quickly learned that he was of the same abysmal school as Folquet the Younger.  Finally, the steward retired and the party went to sleep...

Only to be awoken a few hours later when by a commotion outside.  Several of their men-at-arms had discovered strange, albino vipers in their bedrolls.  These they hacked apart with various bladed instruments. The members of the party still within the peasants' hut soon found that a number of the serpents had burst up from the ashes of the cook fire in the center of the hut.  They immediately fled and burned the house down - much to the dismay of the peasants.

The party decided this must be the work of a warlock angry at them for the destruction of the village.  They immediately suspected Folquet's steward, but decided they should also check in with the parish priest in order to make sure he wasn't saying prayers to Simon Magus or anything weird like that.  He saw one of their badges marking them as members of the Brotherhood of God and asked that they come see him during the night.

He revealed to them that many of the peasants whisper dark things about Folquet the Younger and believe him to have dealings with both the Yaones and the Devil himself.  They asked him if he suspected the steward of anything, but he did not.  He did inform them that the steward was a former clerk - a group well known for producing necromancers - and that Folquet the Elder took ill around the same time the steward arrived.

They contrived to have the steward attend a mass given by the priest and hoped that he would be unable to eat the body of Christ, thus revealing himself to be a warlock.  In what must have been one of the tensest masses in history, the party appeared with five of their armed men and met the steward with five of his armed men in the church.  They all took communion, much to the shock of the local peasants who had assembled themselves in the church.  Unfortunately for the party, the steward seemed capable of eating the Eucharist and now it's back to the drawing board for them.

It is currently the middle of the summer of 1193.

*I should note that the party composition has varied over these sessions, but there are a few core members.  The occasional influx of new people is why I wrote this post.