The Travels of Duinhir Tailwind: Session 9 is a game session report for The One Ring. We played in my living room on .
Duinhir has stumbled into a Dwarven community hidden amongst the grass and brush lands of Cardolan. After a failed Council, he must prove his qualities. Over the next seven days he’ll do so by assisting the community’s physician.
Regin Irontooth is his custodian. He’s given comfortable quarters to rest and call his own during his stay.
During this time Duinhir remains in the Adventure Phase. Since he hasn’t lost any Endurance he has none to recover.
Per page 71 of The One Ring 📖 core rule book, he can spend Fellowship Points to recover Hope. I chose for Duinhir to spend all of those points and restore 5 Hope; bringing him to 9 Hope.
As Loremaster, Duinhir must prove his qualities through a Skill Endeavor. This sounds like a “laborious” task, time consuming and under the scrutiny of Regin and the others. Using the optional rules from Ruins of the Lost Realm 📖, this looks like Duinhir has enough time; which means he’ll have 5 attempts to prove his qualities (e.g. getting 6 successes).
On the first day, Regin is waiting outside Duinhir’s quarters; a small single chamber hewn cave. One wall of which is ornately etched with geometric shapes.
Regin quickly leads Duinhir through the crevasse. Duinhir realizes that if he doesn’t make a good impression in these first few days, they’ll almost certainly keep him hostage; he’s seen too much.
There are Dwarves busy cooking and mending. Two old, but not quite as old as the others, gear up to venture above. A soft deep lament hums through the hallways; though Duinhir doesn’t understand the words his heart fills with sadness.
Regin, yesterday chatty, now quiet and somber fulfilling his duty, silently guides Duinhir through to a grotto. He nods towards a wispy haired dwarf who is leaning over and tending to a bed ridden dwarf.
“Veig is the one doing the tending,” says Regin as he stops walking and draws up stiff in attention, “Now go introduce yourself and offer your services oh great revered healer.”
Duinhir steps into the grotto, ducking so as to avoid the low overhang. There are three beds blanketed in hides and furs. On each one rests a fragile and sunken cheeked Dwarf, almost death-like in their shallow breathing.
Uncertain how to introduce himself, Duinhir with bowed head moves into the peripheral vision of Veig so as to not startle him. Duinhir then looks up to see if Veig notices him. Veig sees him, but continues in his work.
“Master Veig, I come to assist you as you see fit,” says Duinhir.
To start out in Veig’s good graces, as Loremaster, I call for a Courtesy from Duinhir; a favoured skill, albeit with on rank. Duinhir fails his test.
He now has 4 attempts to garner 6 successes to prove himself.
Agitated by this new burden, Veig steps away from his patients and pulls Duinhir out of the grotto.
In a hastened sibilant voice that softly trails, Veig says “Show some manners son. Don’t slink up besides me and say such silly things. That place is not the place for interruptions.”
“My apologies master Veig, how may I make amends?” asks Duinhir.
“Tailwind, or so I heard, your skilled in sutures and surgeries?”
“I’ve sewn up a few folks but nothing much more. I do know a thing or two of medicine; of roots, leaves, and berries,” answers Duinhir.
“I see. Then, since some supplies have sunk to a saddening level, I’ll send you seeking. I need seem to always exhaust our turmeric and evening primrose. Spend your day seeking and harvesting these and bring them back this evening. Fresh is best,” says Veig.
Duinhir glances at Regin who has clearly heard everything. Duinhir hears Regin’s sigh of resignation.
“Well, young Tailwind, this complicates things indeed,” says Regin, as he motions for Tailwind to join him.
Out in the Scrub and Brush
As Loremaster, I wonder “Does Regin allow Duinhir to bring any of his equipment while they forage?” I think that is doubtful, and ask the Telling Table: “No.”
For the next test, I spend a bit of time reading the skill list. Gathering herbs sounds like a Scan test. Given that Duinhir’s training in Healing and looking for medicinal herbs, there’s no disadvantage.
Duinhir, not wanting to disappoint Veig. And as the player, I don’t want him to fall further behind on this Skill Endeavor; so I invoke his Folk-Lore Distinctive Feature for inspiration.
Duinhir succeeds, he has 3 more attempts and now needs 5 successes.
The sun sinking in it’s last hours of the day eases the heat of a mid-June afternoon. Duinhir’s kneeling, one hand holding a shoot of evening primrose the other a knife gently cutting the stalk. He wears a gathering apron bursting with evening primrose and turmeric root.
Nearby, Regin stands scanning the horizon. His one hand holds his strung bow. He glances back at Duinhir, checking that his ward is still at work. He turns again, scanning the northern horizon
“I can’t help but notice that all this day your eyes favour scanning the northern horizon. Looking for more of my kind to come this way?” asks Duinhir.
As Duinhir’s player, I ask for a Riddle test; he’s hoping to learn if the Dwarves know of the Orcs. I spend a point of Hope to rummage up 2 dice for this test.
Duinhir succeeds and garners 1 Շ rune. He has 2 more attempts to get 3 more successes.
“Nah, lad, it’s not your kind I’m watching for. Out here, if you watch the horizon, you can see most anything coming,” says Regin.
“By anything you mean Orcs,” says Duinhir, “Right?”
Regin stops looking at the horizon, glances back at Duinhir, and asks, “Now, you know something of the Orcs to the north of here?”
“What I know is that I found traces of Orcs as I traveled through the downs. And were I not alone, I would’ve went hunting,” says Duinhir.
Regin, realizing he’s softened towards Duinhir, bristles and hardens his spirits. “Oh, so you want to go hunting. Say bring a few of us along, and then sell us out to their ilk? Is that it?” accuses Regin, “I think we’re done for the day.”
As Loremaster, I consult my past notes. The Orcs are bringing death to this venerable community of Dwarves. Yet I’m uncertain how. Outright raids and attacks make little sense. Perhaps poisoning the land on which the Dwarves rely? Perhaps this crevasse is a wound from the First Age?
I ask the Telling Table: Telling Table: “Is this ailing of the Dwarves from ancient wounds re-opening?” I give this middling chances and the answer comes back “Yes.”
As Loremaster, my thoughts turn to Bilbo’s blade Sting, that glowed in the presence of Orcs. And that this crevasse has a latent curse activated by the presence of Orcs. To use some science, it’s as though while they are nearby the crevasse acts as a source of radiation.
I hold the specifics lightly, and will remain curious how this emerges in play.
Tending the Bedside
The first three days Veig tasks Duinhir with gathering herbs. Regin maintains a stoic vigilance, answering any of Duinhir’s conversations with a single word. Knowing of a few other medicinal plants, Duinhir also harvests those and brings them back.
On the seventh day, June 13th for those keeping track, Veig decides that Duinhir may help attended to one of the Dwarves.
During this time, Duinhir has kept secret the letter from Gandalf to Saruman. And while he’d like to help and even hunt some Orcs he knows that one should not tarry on a wizards errand.
As Loremaster, I call for a Healing test. Duinhir again invokes Folk-Lore to bring 4 dice to the roll. Success with 1 Շ rune. Duinhir has 1 more attempt to get 1 success.
While preparing poultices, tinctures, and broths, Duinhir muses, There are no youth here, only old and older Dwarves. And they’ve all have chosen to stay here instead of seeking mountains and rich mineral veins.
Meanwhile Veig, who had three days ago decided that Duinhir was trustworthy, sits at the bedside chair. He looks at Duinhir, smiles and dozes off for a much needed nap.
As Duinhir’s player, I ask the Loremaster if he can make a Lore test to recall any tales or stories that might speak to this community; and provide insight into how to prove his trustworthiness.
As Loremaster, I have what I think to be the answer to this question. But I’m not quite sold on this use as a Lore test. How might Duinhir bring this Lore to prove his trustworthiness.
I have my answer.
Let’s roll some dice and play it out. Given that this involves Dwarf shame, I don’t think there’s much information. I assign a one die penalty.
Looking at Duinhir’s character sheet, he has 2 ranks in Lore, which is Favoured. I again spend a point of Hope and invoke Folk-Lore to roll 3 dice. Duinhir succeeds.
Over the course of the week, Duinhir strove to look without looking and to listen with listening. To be curious without looking as though he was prying.
Each night he stared at the etched rune in his sleeping quarters. The geometric pattern abstract in it’s exacting angles and embossing work. Yet, this last night as he was drifting to sleep he saw something quite different. The pattern was in fact a bit of a map.
One that pointed from here to somewhere else. That night, under candle light he poured over his detailed set of maps and there amongst the creases and folds he found shapes and patterns, that while not crisp and angled, were similar enough.
From the center of Cardolan, on his map, he traced the pathway that he saw in the wall etching. The trail led to the Ettenmoors. And he remembered a tail told by an old Dúnedain decades ago.
Tale of the Dwarven Hall upon the Ettenmoors
Centuries ago, perched in the Ettenmoors there was a few thousand Dwarven souls led by a would be king looking to scratch a small fiefdom into the mountain’s stone. Lo’ to live on the threshold of Angmar is struggle enough, to thrive, near folly.
Yet these Dwarves, in their pride, thought they would bring wealth and prosperity. The Rangers counseled first against this endeavor but also acknowledged that they were eager to see friends take foothold in those northern mountains.
Bitter years of ash and soot ground down even the most stalwart. Bickering ensued; the very shadows of the mountains delighted and feasted on these quarrels.
Fearful that harsh words might turn to kin-slaying, several gathered in secret and elected a young Dwarf to seek the help of the Rangers. He was to ask and even beg of them to lead them south, to the Great East Road.
The Rangers had seen this diet of ash and dust take it’s toll; strife soon doomed those Dwarven halls. They approached the Dwarf king and brought warning; that the Rangers were stretched and unable to patrol and protect those north-most lands.
The Dwarf king scoffed saying within these halls were free to come and go. Those who had met in secret found their voice and spoke of leaving with the Rangers.
While free to come and go that did not stop the Dwarf king from cursing their departure.
Silent was the company of man and dwarf who made their way from the Ettenmoors to the Last Bridge. There, at a grand marvel of their ancestors, the hearthless Dwarves lowered their heads and in shame sought not to return to the mountains but instead to wander.
The Dúnedain, knowing the pain and loss of home and hearth, bowed their heads to honor those who chose to leave before kin’s blood was shed.
It is said that the Dwarven king remained and as hatred and greed ground and gnashed his halls to meal, he alone held fast retreating to his vaults.
Duinhir Demonstrates His Trustworthiness
On the evening of the seventh day, waiting in his chambers, Duinhir steeled himself to learn of his fate. Though not quite captive, he felt caged. They had given him freedom within the confines, but for one used to the road, this taxing trial wore him down.
Regin came to his chambers, “Tailwind, the time has come for judgment.”
Duinhir rose and followed Regin to the now familiar commons area. Gathered were all 23 of the Dwarves who were still healthy. On their dour faces, Duinhir saw his doom.
Regin ushered him to the center of the gathered circled.
Without giving space for any judges to speak, Duinhir spoke, “My good Dwarves. I haven’t been as truthful as I might.”
Several Dwarves chortled and gossiped, “I knew it, what did I say, untrustworthy to the core.”
“Now hear me out, for what I say may temper your judgment,” responded Duinhir to the critiquing Dwarves, “My name is Duinhir, son of Gilraen who was daughter of Egalmoth. I am Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North. I share this now for I have seen thy qualities and know them to be true.”
Some of the gossiping Dwarves stopped.
“And how do we know that this is not a lie?” asked one of those who were clearly here to condemn.
And there Duinhir, told the tale of an old Ranger around a campfire telling a tale of sadness and sorrow; of hearth and home now lost.
And as Duinhir drew to the end of the tale, he saw the red and teary eyes of his audience; those sitting beside each other now holding each other close.
“Duinhir, son of Gilraen, daughter of Egalmoth,” spoke Regin Irontooth, “in these seven days, you have shown humility and kindness. And for that once again we thank the Dúnedain.”
When I called for Duinhir to make a Lore test, I was hoping to use a Favoured skill to have the best odds at a success. As the Loremaster it felt like a stretch, but one that I’ve learned to give space to breath.
I had no clue how I was going to incorporate the successful Lore into the Skill Endeavor. I was struggling to understand how.
I started writing this session this morning, and added details to provide a sense of place one of those was the etching on the wall; it was a throwaway.
And I started to think, now if I were a hostage who had a room, I would be curious about it’s furnishings. I went with reincorporation and connecting a throwaway bit of scenery with one of Duinhir’s Useful Items.
Even then, I didn’t know how this would work. But I started writing, trusting that it would get there. I chose to connect Duinhir’s “secret” to the Dwarves’s “secret.” Which proved to be the “key” to unlocking the puzzle of how to connect the Lore test to the Skill Endeavor.
All of this was a puzzle to explore and connect.
None of this resolves the problems of the Orcs bringing death, by their very presence, to this community. But that is something that will now sink into the background.
Now, on to awarding experience. Duinhir faced a noteworthy encounter, revealed a significant location, overcame a tricky obstacle, and participated in a council. That’s 3 skill points and 1 adventure point. I am itching to raise one of Duinhir’s Council skills.
Also, as this was a successful “Joyful Sight: Peaceful Sanctuary”, Duinhir also regains 1 Hope.
This was one of those sessions that I leave the game feeling, “Hot damn, these are the kind of game sessions I am seeking.” I didn’t know how Duinhir would navigate the Skill Endeavor, but chose to lead with the fiction.
I’m amazed that mental framing of myself, Duinhir, Duinhir’s player, and the Loremaster can all engage in this game. I’m finding Strider Mode 📖 a fascinating meditation on the role-playing medium.