Our best session yet.


My players have been on a bit of a trek through the pictish wilderness, looted a tomb, and are now on their way home laden with treasure.

Unfortunately, due to being ill over the weekend, I hadn't been able to plan for the next session. Further, i knew that one of my players was going to be late.

I needed to improvise, and fast!

My resources: A number of pictish miniatures, floorplan of a small village from an old dragon magazine, and some pre-written combat cards which had the stats of various picts upon them.

This, then, is the tale of the resulting game.


The Cast:
(All are level 3)

A lithe pictish barbarian from the all-but extinct and rather unpopular Ghost Eagle tribe. He weilds a pair of axes with great skill and finesse, and wears leather armour.

Sven the Besersker.
A brutal Vanir barbarian, who likes nothing better than a glorious battle. He fights with a warsword and a large shield, and wears a scale hauberk and horned helmet.

Marcos Covas Angelo.
A Zinguaran Pirate, who fights with Cutlass and Buckler, and wears quilted cloth for protection.

Ysf Bn Gbl.
A Hyrkanian Nomad, a master of the bow and who usually fights with shortsword, poiniard and Targe.


Cut Scene
It was night-time, and Tupa and Sven were on watch whilst their more civilised brehren slept. Suddenly, arrows flew out of the darkness.

"Bloody Picts!" yelled Sven, charging off without a thought. Knowing full well that Sven was probably running into an ambush, Tupa set off in pursuit.

Their foes retreated like ghosts, showing themselves just long enough to maintain the pursuit. The two barbarians quickly realised that they were not being ambushed - they were being decoyed...

The returned to the camp. It had been ransacked, and it appeared that their companions had been carried away. But there came a moaning fom the flattened remnants of the tent, and there they discovered a stunned and angry Ysf, who had been clobbered through the thin walls of the tent and then entangled within its canvas as it collapsed.

But there was no sign of Marcos...


It was not easy, but Tupa managed to track the pictish attackers to a small, semi-permanent warcamp. It was pallisaded with large sharpened stakes, forming a rectangle, with a small gap in the middle of each side. A pair of pictish sentires covered each gap, whilst the vast majority of the picts were gathered around a roaring fire in the centre of the camp.

He crept in for a closer look. There was Marcos, unconcious, stripped to his breeks and tied to a post, guarded by two particularly brutal looking pictish warriors, and what could only be the warchief.

Standing nearby was a shaman, also guarded by two mighty bodyguards. Worse, though - Tupa recognised the ritual preperations for the Dane of the Changing Serpent. If they were to rescue their comrade (and recover their stolen gold) they would have to act fast.

Tupa rejoined his companions to report what he had seen.
"We need a plan" muttered Ysf.

"But I think we have a way of defeating them. A palisade is a great defence, but we can use it against them, if we meet them in the gateway they can only attack a few at a time. If we act swiftly, they may not have the time or wits to use the other exits and encircle us."

"I like it!" said Sven. "I will pit my strength and armour against any number of picts, as long as I can meet them a few at a time!" He was oblivous to the fact he had just insulted one of his companions

Tupa scowled, but let it go.

"Then whilst you two distract them, I will sneak over the wall and free Marcos. There might even be time to look for our treasure."

"Who cares about the treasure?" asked Sven. "The important thing is the battle!"


As Tupa made a wide circle around the camp, Ysf and Sven crept towards the front gate. Because of the torches in the village, it was easy for them to see the sentries whilst they were still deep in the shadows.

"Rush them, Sven." whispered Ysf. "As soon as they see you, I will put an arrow through one of them. You will have to deal with the other.

Not waiting another moment, Sven charged. Showing remarkable restraint, he did not roar his usual battle cry, trying to get as close as possible before being noticed.

Clearly the sentries were distracted by the celebrations inside the village, for they did not have time to react before the brutal Nordhiemer was upon them. Sven dropped his foe with a single wild blow fom his warsword, and the other sentry died gurgling with an arrow in his throat.

By some minor miracle, none of the picts within the village had winessed this attack. Sven and Ysf quickly dragged the bodies to one side, and in hasty whispers, quickly agreed to a minor change of plan.

Sven hid to one side of the gateway, whilst Ysf rerated into the darkness, and then, from concealment within the undergrowth, sent an arrow straight into the throng of dancing, whooping picts.
There was no immediate reaction - the throng was so raucas that one mans cry of pain went unheard. But as the wounded man shouted and yelled, he gradually got the attention of his fellows, assisted, no doubt, by the second arrow that flew out of the darkness and struck one of his fellows.

Led by the two angry, wounded men, the picts gave a unified roar of outrage and charged towards the gate.

The gate was narrow enough to force them into mob only three abreast, the two wounded and one other in the lead. From his hiding place, Ysf sent another arrow flying, this time into the unwounded man, then put his bow aside and drew his sword.

Sven allowed the three wounded picts to run past him, confident that Ysf could handle them. Then with a terrifying roar, he threw himself into the next "rank" of picts, bringing them to a halt within the gateway, dropping two of them with a single blow of his sword.

There was no way for the pictish Warchief to know what was going on - all he knew was that his men had run screaming towards the gate. Yelling at the remaining sentries on the other three gates to keep in their place - much to their disgruntlement - he gathered his two bodygaurds and went to invstigate, forcing his way through the rabid hoarde, trying to reach the front.

This left only the shaman and his bodyguards to watch over the captive. Who unbeknown to them, was just begining to regain conciousness...
As Marcos came to his senses, he gently tested his bonds. He was pleased to discover that his lithe, thin wrists could easily be worked from the crude ropes with which he was tied, but he knew full well that if he tried it, the shamans men would simply beat him to the floor with their brutal clubs.

Tupa, meanwhile, observed the scene quietly from the roof of one of the huts. Cautiously, he readied his hunting bow, then sent an arrow flying towards the Shaman.

The arrow caused only a minor wound, and the Shaman yelled with surprise and anger, gesturing at his surprised bodyguards who turned towards the source of the attack.

Tupa, however, had ducked back down behind the ridgeline of the hut.

Seeing his chance, Marcos snaked one arm free of his bonds. And to his delight, he could see a crude dagger tucked into the belt of one of his distracted guards, just within arms reach. He stretched out, cautiously, plucking the dagger out of its crude leather sheath, and set to work on the rest of his bonds.

Unable to see beyond the torches hung on the eaves of the hut, the shaman and his guards squinted into the darkness, moving forward slowly. Then, with a whoop, Tupa leapt fom the roof, charging forward like some insane, frenzied demon, an axe in each hand. One of the bodyguards stepped forward to protect his master, and battle was joined.

But this did not protect the shaman from Marcos, who, free from his bonds, had crept silently towards his chief tormentor and now plunged his stolen dagger deep into the shamans back, felling him with a single strike.
Meanwhile, back at the front gate, Ysf was sorely beset. Whilst he was gradually slaying his wounded foes, it was taking much longer than he had hoped. This meant that he could not support Sven, who must therefore withstand the wrath of almost the entire warband alone.

Sven, meanwhile, had entered a beserk rage. His warsword, powered by his thick arms and buring wrath, was hewing and rending any foolish enough to come within range. But for every pict that fell, another would take his place, and gradually his numerous foes were surrounding him. There was no way he could avoid every blow, and whilst his armour could withstand much, it could not protect him from every blow.

And worse, the Warchief and his two chosen warriors had now forced their way through the ranks, bringing crushing warclubs and a captured aqulionian broadsword into the fray - a prospect of far more concern to the armoured Nordhiemer than the crude clubs and axes of the ordinary pictish braves.
Shocked at the sudden and unexpected death of their Shaman, the bodyguards nonetheless chose to concentrate on the whooping, axe-weilding maniac in front of them rather than the half-naked weakling behind them, armed only with a dagger.

This was something they would not live to regret. For whilst Tupa's axes were indeed to be feared, Marcos was capable of finding the most vital and delicate spots into which to thrust his captured dagger, and his well aimed stabs slew another of his foes, even as Tupa's axes spilled the life-blood of the other.

But they were not safe, for the sentries, now realising what was happening, had moved into the village to join th efray, sending arrows flying straight for their hated enemies. Two moved to join the throng at the gate, but the other four moved to slay Tupa and Marcos. With nowhere to run, Marcos picked up the warclub from a fallen foe, and prepared to meet the attack. Tupa, with no restraint whatsoever, rushed the two closest, and began swinging.
Ysf finally dropped his last opponent. Seeing Sven surrounded and outnumbered, he readied his bow.

Sven, by now, was bleeding from several cuts. He continued to slay the picts surrounding him with terrible ease, but overcome with rage and bloodlust, the survivors refused to flee, climbing over their fallen dead with murder in their hearts. The sheer weight of numbers was threatening to overwhelm him, but then one of his foes dropped, a finely crafted arrow deep in his back. Knowing that Ysf had finally come to aid him, Sven began fighting more defensively, knowing that if he could simply hold the picts here in the gateway, Ysf's deadly archery could soon even the odds.
Tupa had made a mistake, one that might cost Marcos' life. Whilst Tupa himself was easily a match for the two braves in front of him, Marcos, without armour or his prefered weapon, was in trouble.

Marcos, sorely wounded, had smashed one of his foes to the ground, but knew that he had little chance of surviving againt the other. He went on teh defensive, desperately trying to stay alive long enough for Tupa to come to his aid, but Tupa was still engaged with his own opponents.

Tupa redoubled his efforts, slaying one of his foes but unable to slay the other quickly enough.

But now the fight at the gate was nearly over. Only the warchief and one bodyguard remained, the frenzied nordhiemer and the deadly nomad had turned a pitched battle into a massacre. Even though it was more than 100 feet away, Ysf could see the danger that Marcos was in, and nimbly moving bast the embattled Sven, who was still holding his own, Ysf took careful aim at Marcos' foe, and sent swift death whistling clear accross the village.

Tupa dropped his final opponent, and seeing how badly Marcos was hurt, moved across to help tend to his wounds.

Sven slew the final bodygaurd, making it an evenly matched combat between himself and the Warchief. Even, excpet for the fact that Sven was already bleeding from a plethero of cuts and stabs - soon made worse by the Pictish warchief evading his defences and slashing him deeply. Sven, by now, was kept on his feet only by the tremendous barbaric rage, and determination not to fall before his traditional enemy.

In fact, the Warchief himself was almsot dead, thanks to Sven's deadly hacking. With triumph, Sven raised his sword for the final cut, only to see his foe collapse before him, one of Ysf's arrows in his back.

Enraged at this stealing of his honour, Sven charged towards his ally. But by now, even he had reached the end of his almost inhuman endurance, and he collapsed before he was even half way.


A hushed silence, broken only by the crackle of torches, descended. The bloodshed had been terrible, and the victorious surviors were both glad to be alive and amazed - perhaps even appalled - at the slaughter they had wrought.

Silently, without saying a word, they bound each others wounds, reclaimed their stolen possesions, and filed away into the darkness, leaving the heaps of brutalised dead to the scavengers.
Some notes:

This was an unashamed hackfest, as I simply didn't have the chacne to come up with anything else.

That said, the PCs could have gone for an entirely stealthy approach - in fact, I think that was their intention, to a certain extent - the battle at the gate was supposed to be a decoy whilst Tupa rescued Marcos.

I made some poor rolls with some of the picts, otherwise Sven would probably have dropped. At which point Ysf would probably have run for it, as whilst his bow is deadly, he simply wouldn't be able to kill picts fast enough. All would not have been lost, however, as Tupa would have probably been able to take up the slack at that point, and continue the fight.


The players really enjoyed themselves - this was their first game since reaching 3rd level, and it was enourmously gratifying for them to get use out of their brand new feats and special abilities. Sven's deadly use of the Cleave feat, Ysf's brand new precise shot feat, and Marcos' extra D6 sneak attack damage all came into use, and whilst not as spectacular, Tupa's new "eyes of the cat" ability also saw some use during his stealthy approach.

I am lucky, in that I have players who are willing to seek the fun, rather than try to powergame. Whilst they do, jokingly, keep a count of their kills (a la Legolas and Gimli) they are not serious in their boasting, and acusations of "you stole my kill!" are always made with a laugh (even when Ysf finished off the Warchief).

Marcos vs Tupa also caused great hilarity. There was Tupa, armed to the teeth, but it was Marcos, in his underwear and armed only with a stolen primitive dagger, who was doing all the damage! Of course, this was only possible *because* Tupa was there to distract the picts, but Marcos' exploits that day have earned him the unnoffical nickname of "Captain Underpants"...


The only thing that made this scenario possible at the drop of a hat is that I had made up, for a previous game, some rather useful little combat summary cards for picts with various weapon combinations, plus a Shaman and a Warchief, both level 3. I will definately be making up more, for different foes, as they proved to be so useful.

very nice card, any chance we could get a page of them blank?

d :D
What an excellent adventure and a really good read - thanks for posting it. Any intentions to have the PC's actions have corollary consequences? Perhaps this slaughter would unite some of the Pict tribes or something!

That sounds like an amazing session; I always like hearing about other GM's and their player's adventures. It's amazing sometimes how you can create an entire gaming session with only some stat blocks and a visual or two. I started a Conan campaign yesterday just like this and the players had a blast.

Those stat cards of the Picts look awsome too; like the Guest said, do you have any white or blank ones lying around that you could put up? I've been using index cards for sometime now and they work fine, but those stat cards look a lot neater.
I wish more people would post there game sessions if they had a praticularly good one, its a great source of gaming inspiration.

kudos mayhem

With regard to the "NPC Card" above, I wonder if it would be possible to get hold of the base Data for the NPC pdfs in teh download section.

With such data to hand, it would not be at all difficult to either use a look-up table in excel, or a databse perhaps, to quickly convert it into NPC Card format.
Mayhem said:

With regard to the "NPC Card" above, I wonder if it would be possible to get hold of the base Data for the NPC pdfs in teh download section.

With such data to hand, it would not be at all difficult to either use a look-up table in excel, or a databse perhaps, to quickly convert it into NPC Card format.

This should not be too difficult to extract. I'm willing to go through and extract the table data if you are willing to share your npc cards with me. :)

How do you feel about tab-delimited text files?
That would be handy - I hope you have better luck extracting the data than I did!

And, of course, it was always my intention to share the fruits of the labour.

However - before you start work:

I have asked Mr Sprange if access to the original data is possible. If this works out, it would be far easier than extracting the data from the .pdfs, and, of course, gives the whole project a touch of legitamacy that it would not otherwise have.