Rise of the Runelords

Retaking Rannick

The Meek Shall Overcome

Fort Rannick, as you discovered, has fallen. A notorious clan of ogres known as the Kreegs launched a devastating assault on the fort three weeks ago, an assault that left little doubt of treachery in the mind of the few survivors. Someone must have given the Kreegs detailed information about the fort’s defenses—the assault was too perfect in its execution and timing for any other explanation to make sense.

The three remaining Black Arrows rescued from the Grauls tell you how they arrived at the fort near the end of the battle, and that their attempt to retake the fort resulted in a disastrous rout that had the Black Arrow patrol fleeing for its life into Kreegwood. Their capture by the Grauls was practically guaranteed, but now that they’ve been rescued, the three Black Arrows are in need of support. You think that the three survivors should be able to answer any question about the Fort that you need answered.

Fort Rannick

Fort Rannick is located at the northern end of a wide valley that runs along the southern edge of the mountains. This bleak landscape stretches on for miles along the border between the mountains and Kreegwood. This rugged, forlorn landscape fits well with the morose and grim attitude of its guardians, the Order of the Black Arrow. The Black Arrows can provide the party with a detailed map of Fort Rannick, so you should be able to plan your invasion of the fort.

[Map of Fort Rannick below] The surviving Black Arrows can provide support as NPCs but there may be a penalty to experience points – your decision]



In Character: Messi very much wants as detailed a map as he can get, standard entrances, blind spots to exploit, diagrams of other potential entrances for a slippery elf with mad Escape Artist skill ranks, natural caverns or abandoned construction tunnels (I’m thinking of how the FBI used Sean Connery in “The Rock” to get into Alcatraz). He would also like any kind of estimate he can get of the opposition, how many, how strong. The Black Arrows must know something worthwhile about this Kreeg clan. Who leads them? Who might be controlling them? (Did the Kreegs take the fort just because it was a thorn in their side, or is someone using the Kreegs as a tool, with the taking of the fort being the first step in some grander plan?) The Black Arrows may not know enough to be able to answer all of these questions, but he’ll ask anyway.

Messi is first looking for a way to perhaps get one or two people in to recon the fort as it is today, how many bad guys, where they are, if they patrol, do they stand watches, are they guarding against an assault, or do they think they’ve won and are relaxed, inattentive?

Messi is supportive of the idea of adding the Black Arrows to bolster the party, to sop up some of those hard ogrehook hits, if for nothing else. Can they be sufficiently healed to effectively fight, or are they too beaten down to help now? He is also intrigued about the idea that the Kreegs had inside help, that they weren’t smart enough to overrun the fort without instructions. If the Kreegs had an “inside man” perhaps he is still in the fort and the recon can look for him, he might be the consigliere to the head Kreeg. Or, perhaps to preserve his life during the slaughter, the “inside man” might not have been in the fort during the attack … perhaps on a long-range patrol? Do any of the three survivors seem less than enthusiastic about retaking the fort? Do any seem to be faking more severe injuries than we might otherwise think they have, in order to stay out of the fight? As in, “You guys go ahead, I’ll mind the horses. I’d only slow you down, anyway, my prayers are with you.”

Retaking Rannick

The map is now on the main log post. I can email file for those not able to easily see the map. The bird’s eye view (upper right) scale is 20 ft. per square. The first floor (upper left), second floor (bottom left), and below (bottom right) map scales are 5 ft. per square. The Black Arrows can tell you anything about the physical layout of the Fort.

The three surviving Black Arrows, Jakardros Sovark, Vale Temros, and Kaven Windstrike are currently at about ten to fifteen hitpoints each (2 CLWs). Besides being beat up, they have no armor, no weapons, no magic, nothing but Kipp the black bear. They are willing to come and fight but need further healing and a complete outfitting.

When you talk to the three, the one that seems like he might be a bit less enthusiatic is Kaven Windstrike.

Retaking Rannick

Aha! Kaven, or Craven? I’m not sure we can readily play out any suspicions on-line, need to do face-to-face bluff and sense motive rolls, etc. So, on to the maps: One question first about the general layout, does the fort back up against a rock face? If so, how high is potential access from above? (For an abseiled entrance?)

Messi gazes at the outside plan view of the site (upper right map) and notes aloud to the Black Arrows in a questioning tone, in a manner meant to elicit either agreement that his reading of the map is correct, or to get them to point out any error in his assessment. “There appear to be two normal approaches to the fort, both over short bridges, but well defended by strong doors and paired guard towers. Are these doors still in good repair, or were they sundered in the ogre attack? Are ogres skilled carpenters? Perhaps we can determine this during recon. Is there a location to observe the fort from a distance to assay its overall state of repair?”

He continues, “I notice from your sketch that there is a small creek connecting the fortress wall to the river. Does the water flow from the river into the fort, or is this a drain from the fort? Is there an iron grating or set of bars that the water pours through? Is it in good repair, or rusting and able to be easily rent? How wide and deep is this rivulet?”

And, “I also see you have drawn in some natural caverns. There is a very straight one coming in from the right, and did you draw rubble at its mouth? Is it well blocked and never used by the Black Arrows? If so, how well blocked is it? Could a greased elf with high Escape Artist skills slither through? (i.e. how large are gaps between boulders?) Where does this cavern/tunnel go to, or perhaps expressed more usefully, where does it originate? This may be a possible entrance either ignored or lightly guarded by the ogres.”

Then, “I of course, noticed the rather extensive natural caverns behind the fort with what looks like an entrance at the pond? Is this a hidden or secret entrance? If so, is it also hidden from ready view from the inside as well? Could this be the way the ogres entered the fort? If so, then they may guard it more actively. Was this cavern used by the Black Arrows for access? Storage? I note what appears to be a bridge back in there, this is why I ask how this area has been used. So, I assume these caves were not a forgotten relic of the fort’s history. Well that, and the fact you drew an opening from these caves into the main fort courtyard on the far right. What is this opening like? Is it a hole in the wall? Is it a doorway that anyone can simply walk through? Is it restricted in size such that an ogre would have to squeeze hard to get through? You drew a small chamber off the cavern very close to the green roofed building and the inside of the keep wall, are there any secret entrances associated with it?” [Or, do I need to have the DM roll this for me?]

And, "Regarding buildings in the courtyard, the one with the green roof, what was it used for? Dimensions? Height? What rooms and equipment were in it? Windows? Doors? Trapdoors? Could one jump from its roof to the top of the keep’s defense wall? Could one lightly jump down on top of its roof from somewhere outside the fort? [Same questions for the little brown roofed building on the right.]

The larger brown roofed building right next to the fort wall, what was it used for? What rooms and equipment did it contain? Windows? Entrances? Dimensions? Height? Could one scale the fort wall and lightly jump down upon this roof? [Same questions for the smaller brown roofed building near the fort wall, but at an angle.]"

Lastly, “What is up with the other cavern drawing? Where are these? They look like prison cells? Is there a way to get to this area from outside? Is there a way to block this are from the inside?”

Keep questions to come later. Messi is most concerned with getting into the fort undetected for detailed recon and/or the start of the attack. His idea is to get a couple of stealthy party members inside, scout the courtyard and outbuildings, assess enemy strength and locations. Then, return and assassinate guards, admit the rest of the party and murder the monsters. If there are lots of ogres in the courtyard area, then we’d enter the keep and secure it against outside attack. If there are few in the courtyard, we’d then dispatch them to draw the main ogre group out of the keep. In either event, the intent is to choke their river with our dead. Take that, you ugly bastards!

Retaking Rannick

Kefkolo, drank deeply from his wineskin and wiped his forearm across his mouth. “I’m not sure I trust those Black Arrows.” He said absently to his companion across the campfire.
“Why trust? Humans.” Alexander gestured. Because the great apes vocal cords were not well suited for human speech most people would think that he was not very bright which wasn’t true. Alright, he wasn’t going to be able to talk philosophy or be much help performing algebra, but still, Kef had talked to a lot of people that he thought were far less intelligent and insightful.
“Kind of harsh there Alex. You know I’m half-human.”
“Don’t trust you either” and let out an amused grunt.
Kef smiled, ‘touche’ he thought. I’m surprised though that it was Kaven Windstrike that was the most ambivalent about retaking the fort. It’s Jakardros I don’t trust. “Kaven has the misfortune of sounding like “Craven.” Messi made that joke earlier. I think it may have swayed some of the others. Maybe me too?”
“Understand not.” Alex shrugged his massive shoulders. He was used to not understanding when it came to vocabulary.
Oh “craven” it means cowardly, fearful, it sounds like his name.
“Ummmp. Alex pointed at his wrist and said, “Kef” out loud instead of the gesture he usually used when referring to the half-elf. It sounded more like a branch breaking than the name. But Kef was used to that.
“What?” This time it was Kefkolo that was confused.
Alexander pointed at Kef’s arm this time, said “Kef” again and then pointed at Kef’s chest.
“What? My arm? My arm is me?”
Exasperated the ape stood and grabbed Kef’s arm. He grabbed the edge of the tunic with the other hand and tore off a piece of the cloth like it was paper. He then threw the cloth at Kef and pointed at him. “You shirt? He gestured.
“Yes it’s my shirt you bloody damn oaf. What is wrong with you? “
Kef picked up the torn bit of material. He was pissed off and confused. Now I have to find someone to sew this cuff back together and…” He stopped in midsentence. Cuff. Cuff and Kef. Cuff sounds like Kef. Kef sounds like cuff. “I get it, Kef sounds like cuff but that doesn’t make me a shirt.”
“Berries good!” Alexander said shoving a handful of fruit into his mouth that Kefkolo had bought earlier. He had lost all interest into Kef’s musing and problems.
“Yes, very bright you are. The sound of the name means nothing. Kef looked at Alex who was now lying on his back popping berries into his mouth one at a time. Not paying any attention to Kef’s mutterings. Kef smiled, it was always a wonder what words the ape knew and what he didn’t
Hmmm, still though, Keven wasn’t too keen on going back to the fort. But then again, would I be after being tortured like that. But then again the other two seem, well if not eager, at least not as reluctant. Still there is just something off about Jakardros. That Ranger sure wasn’t too keen on him until she let her anger down after she was moved by his injuries. We’re they real? Yes, Yes, I saw them and they were real. Still it wouldn’t be the first time that a traitor got harsh treatment from the conspirators he was serving.
Kef took another long drink and stopped with disgust. He didn’t usually drink very much. Better keep your wits, he scolded himself. Laying down for the night his last thoughts were. “Messi and the rest keep an eye on Kaven. I’m watching you Jakardos.” I wish I know why the Ranger hated him so much. There is more to that story that we were told I bet.

Retaking Rannick

Now, Messi has questions about the Keep maps that the surviving Black Arrows drew. “The double doors/gates on the left side of the upper left keep sketch appear to be the sole point of entry through this second wall. How high are the corner towers and the walkway? How high above the walkway are the battlement walls? Waist high? Chin high? Crenellated? Any blind spots on the approach that may have always bothered you but you were unable to correct? This floor appears to be mostly sleeping quarters? Did the Black Arrows keep personal weapons in their rooms? Or, were they required to check them in some kind of ‘ready armory’? What was the room to the left of the double doors/entrance gate used for? Was the room to the right of the double doors a storeroom? Storing what? The room with the big tables, was it the dining hall? What about the room behind it? And, the tiny cavern behind that room? Are the doors leading to the corner tower ladders locked? What about the room in the lower right, with the table and benches? Where do the two stairways lead?”

Then, “Regarding the lower left sketch of the keep, there appears to be a conference room and perhaps a chapel? What were these really used for and what did they contain? What about the other rooms on this level? And, that round room with the circular stair, where does it lead? What is the other room shown? What was in it? Is there any other access to this round room or the stairs? Whew, enough questions to choke an orc.”

Retaking Rannick
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