Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lone Wolf: Chasm of Doom

A long way to the South in Sommerland is the mining province of Ruanon. Every month a convoy of metal wealth comes north like clockwork. Until now. When it failed to turn up, a troop of cavalry under Captain D'Val went to investigate, but they have failed to report. This is clearly the fault of Vonotar the Traitor[1] and we will not rest until... what's that? He was caught and thrown into the plane of Daziarn from which there is no escape (honest!) in the last book? Hmm. Anyway this needs investigating so the King sends his best agent Banedon the wiz... what? He's off on some quest to do with Elder Magi, Dwarves and a flying ship? Sounds very unlikely. In that case you - Lone Wolf, now a Warmarn or Journeyman Kai[2] - will have to take a look, along with 50 elite Border Rangers.

Lone Wolf rides south, encounters travelling entertainers, an ominous prophecy and clues. Bandits steal most of the horses, leading to the unusual decision to send most of the rangers north[3]. Attacked again, Lone Wolf is forced into the mines, where he discovers that the miners have been enslaved by Vassagonian bandits. Sneaking through the mines Lone Wolf gets to Ruanon, to find it in ruins, but with D'Val's company barricaded and under siege. They chase Lone Wolf with dogs, which backfires when an archer shooting at me gets attacked by one. Heh heh. A serious battle ensues.

Ruanon is on the near the Maakengorge, on which are the ruins of Maaken[4] where the legendary King Ulnar slew the Darklord Vashna. But is seems Vashna is only Mostly Dead and the ambiguous prophecy suggests that if the Baron's daughter is sacrificed with Vashna's dagger at the next significant phase of the moon - three days time - Vashna will rise again. A Vassagonian Warlord named Barraka now has daughter, dagger and intends to raise the most powerful of the Darklords.

This would be a non-optimal end to the mission.

Battle over, Lone Wolf heads off alone[5] to try and sneak through the bandit force. To cut a long story short, he does so, kills Barraka, then makes a desperate last stand against his vengeful forces. At the moment when the only option seems to be to throw the Dagger of Vashna into the Chasm (followed, one presumes, by the daughter and Lone Wolf's self) the cavalry arrive.

Anyway it's well paced - three acts, the first one heading south figuring out what the hell[6] is going on and clashing with bandits, the second one the battle followed by the big reveal, then the third act a tense race against time to stop Vashna's resurrection. What's most important of course is that we've shown the Vassagonians we can't be messed around with. That'll be the last we hear from them I'll wager.

[1] If Sommerland weren't such a noble land I'd be tempted to suggest that the government and in particular the intelligence community were trying to distract attention from their manifest failures during the war with the Darklords by blaming everything on a scapegoat - Vonotar the Traitor. But they are noble and just (it probably says so somewhere) so I won't.
[2] I think this is a gender differentiation. In the fiction Lone Wolf is canonically male, but as far as I can tell his/her gender is not unambiguously spelt out in the gamebooks (so far). Partly this is due to my introduction via the front cover of Flight of a hooded, thin, lank-haired androgynous figure (see here).
[3] I was being thorough and obvious, which makes sense if you're a cavalry troop. The other strategy would be to try and be inconspicuous, in which case half a dozen rangers would make more sense. Also, where were the Rangers when the Darklords attacked the Kai monastery? There needs to be an investigation into their failures... oh it turns out it was all the fault of Vonatar the traitor.
[4] In the Maaken range, which holds the Maaken mines and borders the Maakenmire swamp.
[5] It's in the name!
[6] I assume that if Lone Wolf swears it will be things like "By the Sun!" and "Into the Dark with it!" - language that to us is comically non-sweary, but to Sommerlanders a bit fruity, but without edging over into being salty.
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