Our brave band of heroes are:
Ranulf Rawhide; a barbarian, played by Kevin.
Egbert the Undecided; a mage, played by Mark.
Urham; a mage, played by Micheala.
Cosmo Naught; a ranger, played by 'Yours Truly', Giro
On the road to Darkholme
Whilst on the road to Darkholme, we were accosted by a very distressed looking farm woman who said. "Help, they've all been taken!".
We're not the kind to turn down someone in need, so we asked her to elaborate.
She told us that that her three children - a son and two daughters who worked around the farm had been taken by gypsies. Some gypsy caravans passed by very recently. We agreed to help and the farm woman offerd us a horse for payment.
Before we went off I checked for tracks, but my findings were indeterminate.
We followed at a pace the road, hoping the caravan would stick to it and that we could catch it. The road wound its way for a few hours before it took us into the dark woods.
The Gypsy Camp
As night began to fall we caught site of the flickering of a camp fire. We drew closer to the camp fire and we saw that there were five gypsy caravans camped here close to a stream.
Four caravans were arranged around the camp fire, the last one was set further away. Currently, we could not see anyone sitting around the fire and everything looked quiet.
As we were watching and settling on what approach to use, we heard the howl of wolves in the distance.
Uncertain of what this meant, we decided that there was no time to waste and entered the camp site to investigate. As we moved closer to the camp fire, it did not appear to be generating the normal heat expected for a fire, something strange was happening here.
Before we had any chance to understand the situation, the fire bloomed brightly and became some sort of creature. It moved in to attack us.
The entire camp site appeared to be an illusion, but the fire creature was definitely real! As it positioned itself to attack, we retaliated.
Our mundane attacks were proving to be ineffective, however Egbert and Urham were having success with their spells, as was Ranulf who was using water from the stream to attack it.
Realising that my attacks would be a waste of time, I ran over to the remaining caravan. I was hoping that there would be a mage here who was controlling the fire creature and could call it off.
I knocked on the caravan door and there was no answer, even though I could clearly see bright light emanating from the windows.
In the meantime, my companions continued and eventually managed to defeat the fire creature.
There was nothing else to do now other than to enter the final caravan. When we opened the door, we were shocked to see that it opened into bright sunlight!
We knew we had to see this thing through, so we went through the door.
The Wool Gatherers
On the other side, bright sunlight was streaming through the trees, night had become day and we had no idea where we were.
We walked on and the trees thinned out. Open fields stretched out before us. We saw more woods, a village and a curious-looking fenced off field with people in it?
The fenced off area was closest, so we decided to head there first.
When we arrived at the fenced area, things were even stranger!
Inside the fenced off area were children, they were sitting around doing nothing whilst slowly being covered in some sort of woollen thread which was dropping out of the sky?
Outside the fenced area were adults and they were clearly waiting around by some hand carts.
Finally - and most strangely, we saw some strange almost man-like wooden creatures that were walking about.
It appeared that they were guarding the area, as we approached they moved in aggressively and tried to fend us off, but he drove them away.
The children looked quite catatonic, so we chose to speak with the adults.
We noticed that they were sallow looking and also completely toothless, all of them!
We asked them what was going on?
They told us that they wait here for the children to be completely 'cocooned' in the woollen thread, whereupon they put them into a cart and take them to 'The Moon Tower' in the village.
They also explained that the wooden creatures are known as 'peg-men'!
As we were talking to them, we spotted yet another strange thing. We saw what can only be described as as 'cloth-mouse' - something like a child's toy steal some wool from a child and run off!
We took the opportunity to examine one of these children and found that they too, were toothless!
The adults told us some more about the area.
We are currently in 'The Windy Field'.
The Moon Tower is shrouded in darkness.
The other forest that we saw is known as 'The Forest of Lost Dreams'.
The smoke that we might see comes from 'The Factory'.
We asked the adults about the teeth and they told us that teeth are taken from everybody and sent to 'The Tooth Treasury'? Unsurprisingly, The Tooth Treasury was run by 'The Tooth Hag'.
They then told us that we can expect to lose our teeth soon too. We checked our teeth and they seemed looser than expected? Perhaps it was our imaginations or the power of suggestion?
Finally we asked them why they were here and they said that they had come to rescue children, but now they were just 'here'.
This did not sound very promising.
When a 'cocooned' child was loaded into a cart, we decided to follow the cart to the village and see what happened.
As expected, the cart was taken to The Moon Tower, the adults explain to us that 'The Nightmare Hag' and 'The Weavers' live there.
They also explained that 'The Stick Hag' is in charge here, whoever she is?
The Moon Tower
We arrived at The Moon Tower, it was a grim place, shrouded in perpetual shadow and the approach to the tower was coated in a 'canopy-like' layer of thick webbing. Large, obscured and shadowy motionless shapes hung high in that webbing. We were pretty certain what they were....
We headed for the tower, but the webbing impeded our progress and nearly trapped us. We persevered and worked our way through it. Unfortunately, disturbing the webbing had the consequence of drawing the attention of the shadowy shapes above and several giant spiders walked their horrible spider-walk down the webbing to investigate.
A fight ensued and we managed to dispatch the spiders.
Meanwhile, the adults had dumped the cocooned children here and were returning to the village.
Now that we were within 'the canopy', Egbert cast a 'fly' spell on Ranulf.
Ranulf soared to the top of the tower. There was a window there, Ranulf went to go into the tower when hesaw a horrible, hideous hag - The Nightmare Hag. She had scissors for hands and lunged forward to attack Ranulf.
Using his great strength, Ranulf grabbed the hag and flung her out of the tower. Instead of plummeting to the ground, the hag could fly and she swung around and attacked Ranulf again.
It turns out that when we are damaged by the hag, we lose memories!
I loosed a couple of arrows at the hag, they struck their mark, but there was clearly no effect on her.
Realising that we cannot harm the hag, I retreated out of the canopy. Meanwhile the hag swooped and attacked Egbert and Urham. Ranulf took the opportunity to fly into the tower and explored.
Inside he found thousands of children's toys! Scanning the area he spotted a toy from his childhood, Ranulf grabbed it and his lost memory returned!
Outside the tower, Egbert and Urham were having no luck against The Nightmare Hag, the three others retreated and joined me outside the canopy. Luckily, The Nightmare Hag did not pursue.
We were watching the tower from a distance when later, as the day began turning to night, we saw The Nightmare Hag fly off, leaving her tower.
We left too! We had seen a strange toy-like 'cloth-crow' flapping through the air and decided to follow.
The cloth-crow led us to The Forest of Lost Dreams. When we entered, it had become dark. As we walked through the forest we encountered a trap, also became aware that we were being watched by several sets of strange eyes!
The Forest of Lost Dreams
The strange eyes belonged to three cloth toys. We talked to them and it dawned on us that these three were the three missing children the farm woman had told us about! Somehow they had managed to escape in The Forest of Lost Dreams and become these toys.
They told us that they knew how to defeat the hags. We would need to carry 'lucky heather' when we fought them. They said that they could provide us with heather, but we would need to trade with them. They needed knives, scissors and tools. We gave them what we had, but they needed more.
We headed back to the village, it was late now and very quiet. We searched around for anything that might useful to trade and found a grappling hook and bedroll amongst other things
We returned to the forest and traded what we had acquired for lucky heather and spent the remainder of the night there.
The Tooth Hag
Morning has come, we've got our lucky heather and it's time to deal with the hags!
We agreed that we should go and deal with the Tooth Hag first so we headed over to her cottage. The way is guarded by peg-men, but we managed to defeat them.
Next we saw something we hadn't seen before? Metal peg-men, known as stick-cutters! We fought them too and managed to defeat them.
After all this fighting we reached the Tooth Hag's cottage. It was a very disturbing sight. Everything was made of teeth, the walls, door, window frames - all teeth.
Ranulf rang the doorbell and the Tooth Hag answered! Ranulf attacked her! Now that we were wielding lucky heather, we defeated her.
We explored her cottage and found little of use or interest until we found the basement. Descending, we found the basement waist-deep in teeth!
Anyway, enough of the Tooth Hag, next we decided to return to the Nightmare Hag and see if our luck was better this time.
We went back to the gloomy Moon Tower and began cutting through the heavy webbing that surrounded it. The three remaining giant spiders came clambering down to attack us, but we dealt with them.
Next, we found the Nightmare Hag and dispatched her.
The Stick Hag
Only the Stick Hag remained.
We headed over to her house, it was larger than we expected as it incorporated a forge. The heat it generated was tremendous and we could feel it from far away.
Whilst looking on we could see that this is where stick-cutters were made.
Approaching the hag, we were surprised by her shocking visage, her body had the appearance of a bundle of sticks and her limbs the appearance of sharpened twigs.
We attacked the Stick Hag, unfortunately in the early rounds of combat, the hag resisted the spells of both mages and blasted us with magic of her own.
We were put on the back foot, but we managed to recover.
In a way that only Ranulf could manage, he wrestled her and threw her into the close-by pond. This weakened her and allowed us to defeat her.
The final of the three hags had been vanquished.
We searched her house and freed some children from a cell, they were waiting to be eaten!
We had managed to save most of the children and adults here, who recovered their memories from the Moon tower and teeth from the Tooth Hag's cottage.
Accompanied by the three children we had initially set out to save, we returned to the strange doorway that had led us to this place.
Luckily it was still there and returned us to the other woods by the stream.
It was less than a day's walk to the children's farm. When we arrived, the farm woman thanked us profusely and gave us a horse.
She also told us that in the time we had been away, we had been marked as outlaws and wanted for being con-men?
This was unexpected!
In Darkest Warrens, an explanation
In Darkest Warrens a very light RPG, condensed into 2 pages or so.
PCs have 4 stats, each with an associated value. All tasks are assigned to one of these 4 stats. To succeed, all a player needs to do is roll equal to or above the value (So lower values are better.).
There are 5 professions, each profession grants a player a special ability that they can use once per combat
Magic is equally as simple and elegant. Magic users can cast each spell they know once per combat, but if they fail to cast it, they don't lose the spell and can try to cast it again (Until they succeed at it.).
I could write more, but it would probably end up longer than the actual rules.
Suffice to say that these rules are designed for quick 'pick-up-and-play' fun and not long term play.
So on with adventure and exploration!
Because of lockdown we're playing over Skype, a new experience for us.
The Gypsy camp
The Hag Realm
Buy your own copy of In Darkest Warrens for not much money
These write-ups are taken from Three Spellcasters and a Dwarf