Barodan the Ranger – Session 1

I’ve been on a bit of a Lord of the Rings kick lately, and it has inspired me to start a solo game using the Labyrinth Lord + AEC rules and play a ranger patrolling the cold north.

Character Creation

Unfortunately, rolling a ranger is hard in the AEC rules. If you go by the straight 3d6 all the way down, the odds of getting CON 15, INT 12, WIS 12 are very slim. I created an excel sheet to roll 30 characters at a time and it took 3 rounds (90 PCs) before I found one.

When I found him, though, I had two good options (S-D-C-I-W-C order, as always for me):

17-12-16-15-15-11
9-15-15-12-13-12

Although I like the idea of a woodland archer, I’m going to go with the S17 guy, primarily because of his I15 giving him a bonus language, which will be Sindarin (Grey-Elven), since Rangers commonly speak the elven tongue amongst themselves. He has the additional advantage of being almost born into the career: he hits the minimum requirements for the 5% exp bonus for the three prime attributes (S-I-W).

Next, I needed to create my character’s personality. In order to try something new, I decided to just roll up somebody interesting using the Universal NPC Emulator. I got:

Goals:

  1. agonize communications (disrupt Shadow activities)
  2. achieve literature (seek out the truth of legends and myths)
  3. relate compassion (protect the weak)

Barodan the Ranger is warlike first and foremost, doing what he can to take the fight to the enemy. His second driving motivation is curiosity–the old tales draw him beyond the comforts of civilization. Finally, he is truly a compassionate man, and he will risk his own life for those who need his help.

Mythic Threads:

I will be creating existing threads for my ranger using mythic’s event tables to give him a bit of a back story:

  1. (open/new ideas) Discover old roads and attempt to clear them for civilized passage.
  2. (control/food) Hunt down wargs who have been decimating local wildlife populations.

Map of Eriador

Mythic NPCs:

A Mythic character should start with several “personal” NPCs to add color to their background and provide a focus for adventure setups. Since I know my character will be ranging in the ruins of Eriador, I’ll set him up with the following NPCs:

Elrond Half-Elven, Men of Bree, Rangers of the North

Equipment

Barodan rolled a 15 for starting coins, which means he begins with 150 silver pennies (I will be using a silver standard for this game, in keeping with references in LOTR itself). Coinage will be in a 1:50:500 split, making gold ducats quite valuable, and copper bits not totally worthless in comparison to the silver coinage.

Barodan, as a ranger, is by need well-equipped for battle in the dangerous northland. He owns a long sword (10 sp), longbow (40 sp) and 20 arrows (5 sp), and a hand axe (1 sp), for a total weapon cost of 56 sp. 94 sp remaining.

Barodan wears scale mail (50 sp) and bears a shield (10 sp) when fighting with his sword, giving him an armored AC of 14. 34 sp remaining.

His mundane equipment is geared for travel and survival on long travels. He carries a backpack (2 sp), bedroll and blanket (6 cp), flint (2 sp), 8 torches (3 cp), 50′ rope (1 sp), waterskin (1 sp), and two days of trail rations (1 sp), for a total cost of 6 sp 9 cp. 27 sp 1 cp remaining.

Barodan’s strength bonus of +2 gives him 2 additional carry slots in my stolen-from-Pits & Perils encumbrance system, so he can carry 12 items of any reasonable size (worn armor and pocket-sized goods–such as the flint–do not count as an item). He is carrying: long sword, shield, longbow, 20 arrows, hand axe, 8 torches, bedroll and blanket, rations (2), waterskin, 50′ rope, and flint (10/12 items).

Character Sheet

Barodan, Ranger 1: 10/10 hp; AC 14 (scale + shield); Atk: +2 (long sword, d8+2); Atk: +0 (longbow, d8); MV 30′; Inventory (10/12): long sword, longbow, 20 arrows, hand axe, shield, 8 torches, flint, 2 trail rations, water skin, 50′ rope, bedroll and blanket; Purse: 27 sp 1 cp.

Stats and Abilities (17-12-16-15-15-11): +1 damage vs goblin/giantkind, speaks Common and Grey-Elven, save +1 vs magic.

The Game!

Scene 1.

Setup: Random Event
Chaos Roll: None
NPCs: Elrond Half-Elven, Men of Bree, 
Threads: 
protect wilderness from wargs, clear old roads
Event: NPC Negative (Elrond Half-Elven) – Create/Lies – Elrond has heard dark rumors he wants a ranger to investigate.

It was a season of quiet at Rivendell when Barodan came there. The last of the spring-rains had fallen, but even then the full heat of summer was far off. Few elves were about, out on one errand or another at the behest of Elrond Half-Elven. So it was that Barodan found himself called to Elrond’s side one morning.

Are there rumors of orcish activity? +2: yes

“Barodan, wanderer,” Elrond began, “I must ask of you a favor that darkens my heart. Rumors of orcs have filtered in from travelers and elves both–they say they are organizing, and acting in greater numbers west of the mountains than ever.

Are the rumors in the 1-N, 2-NW, 3-W, 4-SW, 5-S, 6-Ruins? 6, Ruins

“I have heard rumors of strange lights burning in long-dead Fornost. Isolated reports of flickering candles or torches in windows, brought to me by other rangers and elves. Between these lights and the orcs seen abroad… We cannot let these rumors go unheeded. I only hope that they are tricks of the eye or the play of strange moonlight.”

Eriador Map - Rivendell to Fornost

Barodan nodded his head. “It has been many months since I have traveled the Greenway, but the road is a familiar one. I will prepare myself this evening and set out with first light.”

[hostile – capture – knowledge]
“Prepare yourself well, wanderer,” Elrond said. “Take blade and bow, and ready yourself for their use. Few of our friends have returned to this house with their blades unblooded in recent times. If you find that evil does stir in Fornost, I fear your road will be harder still.”

Scene 2.

Setup: Leaving Rivendell
Chaos:
8 vs 3, no chaos

Do any come to see him off? +5: yes, but… + event
Event: PC Negative – Harm/Plans (something about the mission has changed.)
What has changed? Postpone/Project

Barodan rose early for his quest. He readied himself in silence and set out with his pack riding high on his back and his eyes sharp. Before he left the Last Homely House, however, he heard a voice calling to him from behind.

It was Lady Arwen, fair daughter of Elrond and mistress of the house. “Friend Barodan, I come with a message from my father. Heavy rains have fallen high in the mountains. The Bruinen is flooded beyond crossing–you must stay another night, or maybe two, before setting out on your errand.”

Barodan frowned. “The yoke lies heavy when one is ready to run,” he said, “but it is no great punishment to stay another night in your father’s house.”

It took [d4] 3 days for the rains to clear enough for the ford to be accessible, and they passed with the same interminable swiftness of all time spent in the company of elves.

Will they provide him with rations for the road? +5: yes

[scheming – agenda – power]
Arwen met him again on the third day as he prepared to leave. “Friend Barodan, you have a long road ahead of you which may end in violence. Take this lembas with you–it will speed your journey and sustain your strength.”

He took the five carefully-wrapped cakes gratefully and then bid farewell to the Last Homely House before he headed west into the Lonely Lands.

+Inventory: 5 trail rations (lembas)

Scene 3.

Setup: The road to Bree
Chaos Roll: None, rolling for encounters

The road from Rivendell to Bree is about 300 miles, and an experienced traveler can move around 24 miles per day if taking the East Road on foot. Hunting takes up one segment of movement, allowing only 18 miles of travel if he spends the morning or evening hunting.

Day 1. 300 miles to go. Barodan made swift time the first day, traveling 24 miles along the smooth East Road without encountering another soul. He ate one of his rations, having traveled too far to hunt or forage by day’s end.

Day 2. 276 miles to go. Barodan took an hour to hunt in the morning, [d30: 3 vs 15, success] and found a group of rabbits. He took three shots, eventually hitting one of the rabbits but breaking two arrows in the process. -2 arrows, no need to eat a ration today.

Encounter roll: 1 vs 1, encounter
Unsettled Encounter Type: hostile group, 1 0-level enemy, attack/pursue
Enemy: 1 rabid dog, HD d4, AC 12, Atk: +0 (bite, d3 + special); MV 40′; Special: 5% chance of disease on bite
Distance: 120 feet
Surprise: 3, 6, no surprise

The road wound slightly north here, skirting the edges of the Trollshaws. He was not long in that deadly wood before he noticed a dark form moving beneath the trees, following him from a short distance back. Unlimbering his bow, he nocked an arrow and turned to face his pursuer.

Initiative: 5 vs 6, dog first

A large dog burst from the treeline when he stopped, scabbering toward him through mounds of twisted roots and broken earth that lined the road. Barodan loosed an arrow as the thing came at him, but it skipped off a stone and disappeared into the wood.

It came closer now, closing to just 40′, and Barodan quickly drew and loosed another shaft. This one embedded itself deep in a gnarled root just inches from the beast’s head (11 vs 12 AC).

With a snarl, the dog charged across the last few paces of road and leaped at Barodan, but he batted it away with his bow before dropping that weapon to draw his sword (its attack roll missed). His own parry struck home, and his long blade bit deep into the rabid hound’s wiry fur and split it open (attack hit, 3 damage vs 3 hp).

Breathing deeply, Barodan cleaned the blood from his blade and picked up his dropped bow before heading onward, leaving the body to scavengers. He traveled 18 miles that day.

Day 3. 258 miles to go. Barodan spent the morning hunting but found no game. The road was quiet and he traveled another 18 miles without encountering another soul. He ate one ration of lembas.

Day 4. 240 miles to go. With only a few days’ march before he leaves the eaves of the Trollshaws, Barodan commits the morning to hunting to try and find sustenance before crossing the Mitheithel, called the River Hoarwell, and descending out of the foothills and onto the plain. Luck is with him, and he soon spots a family of 3 hogs snuffling through the underbrush. Taking careful aim, he fells one with a pair of arrows (one breaks) and lets the other two run off. -1 arrow; no need to use a ration today; +1 regular ration.

He travels 18 miles without encountering another traveler.

Day 5. 222 miles to go. With fresh rations from yesterday’s hunt, Barodan commits to traveling the whole day. He has no encounters along the road and goes 24 miles, camping for the first time in several days beyond the eaves of the Trollshaws. -1 ration.

Day 6. 198 miles to go. Barodan decides to hunt one last time, hoping to find game come to water on the banks of the Mitheithel before his crossing. After that, game will come scarce on the plains until he reaches the Weather Hills.

Hunting: 2 vs 3-, success!
Game size: 2, small (rabbit)
Bowshot: 13 vs AC 12, kill
Arrow: 2 vs 3-, arrow okay

Luck is with him, and he spies a rabbit in the tall grass. He draws his bow and looses a shaft, which strikes home and drops the rabbit. He eats well, drinks deep from the clean water of the river, and sets off across the Last Bridge toward Bree. The road is quiet that day and he travels without encounter. No rations used.

Day 7. 180 miles to go. Barodan pushes onward today, eating a ration of lembas and forgoing hunting for the day. -1 trail ration.

Day 8. 156 miles to go. Travel again, pushing forward quickly to reach the Weather Hills before his rations run out. No encounters. -1 trail ration.

Day 9. 132 miles to go. Barodan hopes to make the edges of the hills tonight. Setting out early, he travels quickly along the road.

Encounter check: 1 vs 1, encounter
d30 Sandbox Result: Attack by enemy of same level
Enemy: d4+1 bandits, 4
Distance: 90 yards
Surprise: 1, 5 — Barodan is ambushed (bad luck since he has a 50% chance to be the one doing the ambushing!)
Bandits: T1 (3,3,2,2 hp); AC 11 (leather); Atk: +0 (club, d4); Atk: +0 (darts, d3); MV 35′; ML 9.

The road is long and growing warm, and even Barodan’s usually sharp senses turn inward after long leagues. That suddenly changes, though, when a shout from nearby alerts him to the presence of four Men, clothed in dark leather and bearing weapons and ill-intent!

Surprise Round: The bandits wait until Barodan is nearly upon them before leaping up from their hiding places and sending darts raining down upon him. Two darts sink hard into his neck and hand, passing by his armor. 6 damage leaves him with 4 hp.

Round 1: The bandits gain initiative and charge forward now, swinging wildly with their clubs. He twists back and down, drawing his sword and shield frantically, but it is too late–the bandits’ clubs land stiff blows on his head and he sinks to the ground. 8 damage leaves him with -4 hp.

The world goes dark as Barodan falls.

Conclusion

Well! Just goes to show that random encounter tables are deadly for a traveler on their own. A couple of bad rolls–first a large group, then a very unusual failure of surprise, then the loss of initiative, then several lucky hits–meant that this Ranger’s tale ended too soon. Perhaps a lone hobbit or thief–someone with much better hide skill–would have been better off, but I suspect that there’s just really not much a solo adventurer can do when he loses the first two combat rounds against a larger group.

Still, this was quite an exciting world to start building, and I can’t believe I’ve never tried to role play in Middle Earth before. I think I’ll be rolling up a small company next time, though.

Character Sheet

Barodan, Ranger 1: 0/10 hp; AC 14 (scale + shield); Atk: +2 (long sword, d8+2); Atk: +0 (longbow, d8); MV 30′; Inventory (10/12): long sword, longbow, 15 arrows, hand axe, shield, 8 torches, flint, 3 trail rations, water skin, 50′ rope, bedroll and blanket; Purse: 27 sp 1 cp.

Stats and Abilities (17-12-16-15-15-11): +1 damage vs goblin/giantkind, speaks Common and Grey-Elven, save +1 vs magic.

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