We had acquired the sword 'Blight', now it was time to confront Conrad The Crazed.
Percival teleported us into a valley, he explained that he could not take us any further. Something was blocking his teleportation ability. We appeared to be on a vantage point at one end of a valley. The sky was dim and grey, the gloom of twilight had fallen across the landscape. In the centre of the valley we could see a bright light. There were no other lights anywhere else.
Setting off, we decided to head for the bright light, since it would take us through at least one of the villages scattered across the valley.
Nothing interrupted us as we made our way onwards. Soon enough we entered a village. It seemed entirely empty.
Exploring a little, we came across some villagers scrambling about. When they saw us, they immediately turned and fled, however we managed to convince some of them not to flee and speak with us.
The villagers explained that during the twilight, they are hunted by 'The Dark Horseman', a rider in black armour. The Dark Horseman decapitates anyone he finds and his demonic servants take the remains away. They warned us that The Dark Horseman had some sort of 'cold breathe' around him.
The villagers also told us that somehow the valley was caught in perpetual twilight and they were at constant risk from the horseman. They would sneak around, quietly scavenging food when they could, never lingering in one place too long and avoiding open spaces.
Next, we asked them about the light in the valley. The villagers explained that this was 'The Temple of Brule' who is the god of protection.
The villagers then sneaked off.
The Dark Horseman
It was decided that we should head towards The Temple of Brule, using a slower but safer route.
On the way there, we encountered some more villagers. We heard them making a noise as they were breaking into a barn.
Before we had the chance to react we saw a rider in black armour decorated with a bat insignia; The Dark Horseman. He charged and waded into the villagers and began hacking them down. We also noticed a horde of bat creatures circling above, when a villager was cut down, they would swoop down and take the body away.
Randulf and I raced towards The Dark Horseman. I loosed some arrows at him, but they flew straight through him! As we drew closer, The Dark Horseman started to become somewhat transparent or insubstantial. Randulf closed and his blows also simply passed through the horseman.
The Dark Horseman turned and faced us, we were both struck by what could only be described as a 'wave of cold'.
Whilst The Dark Horseman attacked Randulf, the mages assaulted him with spells, this too proved fruitless.
For a little longer we traded blows with The Dark Horseman, still to no effect, Then, abruptly he turned and rode off.
We thought it the wiser not to pursue, given that we had no way to actually fight him.
Our journey to The Temple of Brule continued without further incident.
The Temple of Brule
When we arrived the lights of the temple were a sharp contrast and a welcome relief from the bleak twilight that shrouded the valley. A woman came forward and introduced herself as 'Sister Devotia The Pious'.
As we were talking, we noticed a statue in the temple that was missing a hand. Devotia told us it was a statue of Brule. Then we showed Devotia the stone hand that we had found in the Scarbrough crypt and she confirmed that it was indeed the stone hand of Brule. We offered it to Devotia, but she refused it and told us to keep it. It was a powerful weapon and could be used to drive away the undead. Devotia did ask to hold the hand though and when she did, she recited a rhyme for us, stating it might prove useful. The rhyme made reference to sleeping and time.
After this, we rested for the night. We awoke in the morning still troubled by our injuries, the blows struck by The Dark Horseman were not healing. We spoke with Devotia and she told us we could find Conrad at his temple, but that he was protected by some sort of 'barrier of cold'. This may have had something to do with The Dark Horseman. Devotia also told of a tower, which was where the bat creatures nested when they weren't following The Dark Horseman around.
We had two choices: Head for Conrad or head for the tower. What Devotia had told us of the barrier of cold concerned us considering our previous encounter. So we chose to go to the tower instead.
The Clock Tower
We arrived at the tower without any mishap. The tower was not in fact simply a tower, it was a clock tower. It had four clock faces, all set at differing times; 5, 7 , 11 & 3. o'clock. I also noticed that the four clock faces were perfectly aligned with the four cardinal points of a compass.
Below the roof of the clock tower on every side was an arched entrance and close to the each arch, a pole - no doubt used by the bat creatures to facilitate their entry and exit from the tower.
We could see that the clock tower was several storeys high and there was no ground level entrance.
Using our assorted magic items and spells, we flew up to the arched entrances and peered inside. Above us, the interior of the clock tower rose up to the rafters. The roosting spot for the bat creatures. We decided it was best to avoid the roosts.
The mechanisms behind the clock faces were also in this room, we were unable to move the hands though. There was a bell here and ropes leading downwards through the floor
Other than that, there was a ladder that also went down.
Inside the clock tower
Climbing down the ladder led to a large open room. In the centre of this room was a four by four empty square grid.
There were stairs that continued on downwards.
Going down the stairs, we found ourselves in another room. This room contained ancient statues, crude and worn. There were sixteen of them, it did not escape our notice that the grid upstairs contained sixteen empty spaces. There was also some writing on the wall written in blood: It referred to the 'Bane' family, five of them to be precise. Belvedere, Caractacus, Alan, Dorian and Evan.
The stairs continued on downwards and so did we!
We surmised that we were now on what would be the ground floor. On all four walls were mechanisms that not only displayed the time that was on the four clocks, but also the means to change them. And yet, the stairs still descended.
This led to final room, another square room, the basement. The room was featureless save for the east wall, which was entirely constructed of marble. There was an iron door in the centre of the marble wall and three locking mechanisms of great size sealed the door shut. Above the door was a plaque: The Vault of the Banes, our time will come. This was Bane family crypt.
So after some time, a little calculation and much experimentation, we discovered eventually that moving the hour hands on the different clock faces to specific times would free specific members of the Bane family from the crypt beyond the iron door.
After some more time, we also discovered that positioning certain statues on certain spots on the grid would unseal the three locks on the iron door.
The Bane family crypt
With the iron door unlocked, we went through.
It seemed that we had freed Evan Bane who attacked us. A battle ensued and Evan was defeated.
It transpired that we had also released Alan Bane. Who, in his black armour with bat-insignia we recognised as The Dark Horseman. We managed to vanquish Alan Bane too.
Now that The Dark Horseman had been dealt with, he could no longer provide a barrier of cold for Conrad.
No doubt Conrad had been assembling an army of undead at his temple from Alan's victims. But no matter, it was time to move on Conrad.
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.
Sister Devotia's vision
Midnight greets the dawn,
Time marches on,
When the hours are right the sleeper will awaken,
The bloody writing
Player handout #2 A section torn from a book
This is a quote from 'The Song of Alan Bane' a story in issue #71 of Creepy Magazine (the first issue I ever saw) written by Gerry Boudreau and published in May 1975.
Creepy #71 with Ken Kelly's amazing cover depicting Alan Bane.
Buy your own copy of In Darkest Warrens for not much money
These write-ups are taken from Three Spellcasters and a Dwarf