The Spear of Courage
The Ale Right [Clan Ritual & Heroquest]
The ale-right is a warrior ritual held each Sea Season among the Orlanthi clans. The warriors of the clan gather before the chief to receive gifts in exchange for promises of future service – the day before they must surrender their Arms, Armor, Armband and Shield to the Clan’s Reeve and they must earn them back in the Ale Right. All the clan’s warriors attend the Ale Right, but the Boast is open only to Warriors or others who have distinguished themselves in Battle (Battle Skill 16+, or a recent Heroic Deed).
First the warriors drink mead flavored with rosemary from the chief’s collection of drinking-horns, which may not be put down but must be drained. Then each warrior in turn stands before the Chief. The Chief, seated upon the gifting stool, thanks the warrior for his service in the previous year and hands each of them four gifts in recognition of their service past and service to come: The four gifts are the Spoils of War – the Arms that signify the Warrior’s Honor and Skill; the Armour that signifies the Warrior’s Wealth and Experience; the Armband that signifies the Warrior’s affiliations and personal Runes; and the Drinking Horn that signifies their Loyalty and that they will use to acclaim their Chief. The greater the deeds of the warrior in the last year, the finer the quality of the items returned to them this year, e.g. replacing leather armor with chain armor, or the gift of a fine sword.
The Inner Ring attends the Ale Right to challenge or affirm each Warrior’s boasts. Each notable Warrior stands and makes the Boast – this is his promise of his deeds to come in the next year. A Warrior should never promise to succeed or die in the attempt of some deed, as this is considered foolish rather than courageous – anyone can die trying to kill the Devil, but can you tweak his nose?
The ritual takes a night to perform and the Chief must go last.
For every Success, gain +1 going forward on each subsequent test. You must succeed at each step to make your Boast at the end, else you are hooted at and laughed down.
- To perform the ritual properly, test Custom Heortling or Energetic.
- The Ring then challenges your knowledge of the Clan’s Myths and Legends, test Religion Heortling or Pious.
- Drain the cup and acclaim the Chief, test Constitution or Indulgent.
- Come up with a creative Boast, test Compose or a Passion.
- Make the Boast: test Orate or Roleplay it.
Every Warrior present adds 1 point to ‘Loyalty to Clan’ each time there is a great Boast (critical result). Critical: Add 1 point to ‘Battle’; the Warriors cheer and the Hero will find willing aid this year when needed. Fumble: Lose 1 point of ‘Battle’; the Hero’s boasts are laughed at, and Warriors will think twice before aiding them this year.
The chief can use the total of the points gained as an Augment during the year to his Battle, by calling on the warriors to remember their boasts.
Finovan’s Cattle Raid [Clan Ritual & Heroquest]
Every year, the young warriors of the Clan hone their skills by raiding the herds of their neighbors, even friendly clans. Among the clans, the loss of a few cows is not a great cost compared to letting these young warriors get into more serious trouble. This ritual is intended to make these young warriors listen to the wisdom of the senior warriors of the clan.
One day in Fire Season when the sun was high and the blood ran hot in his veins, Finovan called together the clan. “We must raid our neighbors,” he proclaimed, “for they have great fat juicy cows, and their haughty warriors need a beating. We will best their thanes and win much glory.” All thought this was a fine idea, and roared their approval. Then Humakt said, “It is not a good time for raiding. Our neighbors are all waiting for a moment of weakness, and we have other, more deadly enemies now. We must prepare the tula for war.” Finovan laughed at Humakt, “Grim uncle, you worry too much. Who can withstand our fine fierce warriors? After our daring raid, the neighboring clans will all bow to our glory.” “Glory is not honor, and raiding is not war.” Humakt replied, but Finovan did not listen to him and stormed off with his men and most of the fyrd. Even Orlanth rode off with Finovan, but Humakt was no longer a wild youth and asked Rigsdal to stand watch with him while the warriors went away.
That night three different enemies invaded the tula. The first was a group of cattle-thieves from the Brown Horse clan, who were friendly rivals. Humakt sent his raven to warn them and its wings blew the cold north wind and its eyes burned red with carrion-lust, and its voice croaked with the dirges of the House of Death: “Go back, go back! My master awaits you, and he will take no prisoners!” [First Test – Win without fighting]
The second band of raiders was from the Red Berry clan. They had heard of a great treasure on the tula, and were determined to win it. Humakt sent his wolf to greet them and the bloody-fanged creature howled its war-cry and attacked their horses and drove them mad with fear. [Second Test – Attack a weakness]
The third enemy was Zorak Zoran and his Blood Spiders, hungry for human sinew and bent on havoc. But Rigsdal spotted them, the trolls were caught by surprise when Humakt attacked them in the Darkness. He killed many Blood Spiders and all their trollkin and hacked apart their zombies. But their Death Lords were not yet harmed, so Humakt took drew forth his twin blades and attacked them faster than Yavor’s Lightning, his shining Torc of Honor shredded the twisted troll magic and his iron plate mail repelled their leaden maces. Zorak Zoran himself was cut down at the knees and gutted. With their leader fallen, the Blood Spiders were driven from the field of battle. For the trolls had come for war and death and knew no fear, but Humakt was master of war and death and knew no equal. [Third Test – When it’s war, it’s Total War]
The next day, Orlanth saw the Red Berry and Blood Spider bodies, and knew he had once again underestimated his brother and his strange code of honor. “Humakt,” he grumbled, “you were right to stay in the tula, and I was wrong to go raiding when you counseled against it. For this, and in reward for your valiant defense, you shall have the chieftan’s share of the raiding spoils.”
Then Finovan returned, bringing back much plunder and many tales of glorious contests on his Cattle Raid. The clan soon forgot about Humakt’s defense of the tula and Orlanth forgot his promise to reward him; no fyrdmen had been called up and few knew what had happened. And so it was that during the feasting on the following night it was Finovan that received the finest beer and the proudest kennings from thane, carl, and cottar. His seat was highest, and his bed the warmest that night, while Humakt returned alone to his outlying lodge. [Fourth Test – Wisdom conquers Pride]
“For war is not raiding, and honor is not glory.” Success: Raiders check their Cattle Raiding. Critical: The Hero learns the value of patience, +2 to Cattle Raiding. Fumble: The Hero learns nothing from the older warriors, +2 to Reckless.
Sandals of Darkness Quest
When Orlanth was wooing Ernalda he searched for a gift for her that would impress her. He overheard one of her servants saying that she needed a new pair of sandals and Orlanth thought of the Sandals of Darkness worn by Kyger Litor. He went to his brothers for help.
The Quest Rules
One Hero takes on the role of Orlanth and becomes the Questor; they must be an Orlanth follower, and the rest are clan members who offer to aid him. The success of the group allows the Questor to continue…but the one who succeeded the most at each Station in the Quest gains the Heroic Ability for Station.
Orlanth’s brothers offer advice, one by one and in the order shown. If he accepts the advice of one of the brothers then he gains a benefit from the advice and this determiones the form of the HeroQuest. In any case Orlanth owes a debt of service to the brother whose advice he has taken and must help that brother [a real world clan member] if called on in the future.
- If he takes Yinkin’s advice then he gains the use of Catseye, Identify Scent and Track by Smell Feats for the rest of the Quest and he must try to steal the sandals. (Test Deceitful)
- If he takes Humakt’s advice he gains Humakt’s aid to raise an army to go into Hell. (Test Proud)
- If he takes Storm Bull’s advice he gains the use of Brew Woad and Fight Darkness and Berzerk Storm, and will fight Kyger Litor in single combat. (Test Reckless)
- If he takes Vadrus’ advice then he will try and abduct Ernalda and carry her off from her Court. (Test Lustful)
[Success: Acquire the Heroic Ability to Force someone to Advise you]
The Queen of Earth possesses all the powers of the Earth Rune, and all Earth Feats at 21+. Defeating her will require Great Insight.
[Success or Failure: Acquire directed trait “Ravisher of Women”]
Part 2, Journey Through Hell [if Orlanth does not try to steal Ernalda]
Orlanth must descend the Staircase into Hell and search for Kyger Litor. He has several possible encounters with Insect Swarms, Trolls and other darkness creatures. If he has taken Humakt or Storm Bull’s advice then he must fight every encounter.
[Success: Acquire the Heroic Ability to cross Hell and to find someone in Hell]
The Queen of Darkness possesses all the powers of the Darkness Rune, and all Darkness Feats at 21+. Defeating her will require Great Courage.
[Success or Failure: Acquire Heroic Ability to Fight Darkness]
Part 3, In the Troll Mother’s Cavern [if Orlanth does not try to confront Kygor Litor]
Orlanth must use his Wind Magic to overhear the Trolls who can leade him to the Troll Mother. Orlanth must then be brave and enter the deep, dark cavern filled with the unmistakable odour of Kyger Litor herself. Orlanth must then steal the sandals as Kygor Litor sleeps on her couch. The sandals once worn will allow the wearer to completely disappear.
[Success: Acquire the Heroic Ability to Dark Walk]
Part 4, Return to the Surface [if Orlanth does not try to confront Kygor Litor]
Two giant trolls were passing and saw Orlanth stealing the sandals and disappearing, so they charged in and began swinging their clubs around the room, trying to bash him wherever he hid. Orlanth danced and jumped but could not evade the trolls so he had to defeat them before Kygor Litor woke up.
[Acquire the Heroic Ability to Escape from an underground location]
Part 5, Presenting to the Queen [if Orlanth obtains the Sandals]
Orlanth must present the Sandals of Darkness to Ernalda. If he does this, Ernalda may refuse the gift rather than angering the Queen of Darkness: All participants receive +1 to Flirting, +1 to Courtesy and gains the Dark Walk Heroic Ability. If Ernalda keeps the Sandals then the Questor gains no benefits, but every Ernalda follower gains the Dark Walk Heroic Ability.
The Drinking Giant’s Cauldron [Heroquest]
How mead came to be…
The greatest treasure the gods took from the Old Gods of the Sea was the Cauldron of Ver, the Drinking Giant’s Cauldron. As long as they had the Cauldron, the Sea Gods could never be truly defeated because after every defeat they would replenish their strength by drinking from the Cauldron.
The Drinking Giant’s Cauldron is made of silver and decorated with the secrets of the ages. It holds the bronze waters of Loka, a magical elixir of transformative power wrought by Creation to enhance the powers of divinity. The intoxicating power of Loka immensely increased the strength of the gods, although afterwards they were weakened for a while.
- Orlanth, as leader of the new gods, swore to take the Cauldron of Ver from the Sea Giants who sought to deny his people their rightful place in the world.
- Armed with his three sacred thunderbolts, Orlanth set off for the Great Deep where Ver the Drinking Giant (called Daliath by some) made his home.
- Confronting the Drinking Giant, Orlanth engages him in a series of contests and in the end, carries away their cauldron. As is typical with anything as fluid as air and sea together, there are many different stories of exactly how this was achieved. Some stories say Orlanth stole it, killed them, others that he was given it; in some Orlanth had friends and in others none; in some he was disguised, and others he proudly presented himself. The stories even disagree on the number of contests; most say three, some say five, and a few say just one.
- Orlanth’s vigor is renewed by the Loka, allowing him to slay all the sea giants who try to retrieve the Cauldron. He then entrusts the Cauldron to Minlister, who learns the secret of the Loka and makes the Sacred Mead.
Success: The Clan’s brewers learn the secrets of the Loka and the Cauldron of Ver, +1 to Brewing Skill and all Mead made this Season will be particularly fine. Critical: The Heroes join Orlanth in drinking the Loka from the Cauldron of Ver and are gratned divine powers – they obtain a +3 bonus to an attribute (random). Fumble: The Hero may not drink the Sacred Mead this Storm Season and all their rituals suffer a -3 penalty until for the remainder of the year.
The Wolf Hunt [Clan Ritual & Heroquest]
In the distant past the Making Clan’s only defenders were its Hunters and hunting cats. The quest is to join the ancient clan’s hunters who went into a wolf den to rescue a young Ernalda priestess from a crazed werewolf. Heroes who complete the Clan’s Spirit-Quest can obtain an awakened Allynx follower with the skills (Fight Tooth & Claw, Herd Animal, Hunt by Scent and See in the Dark) who remains loyal as long as the hero honors Yinkin’s holy days. Those who complete Spirit-Quest again advance their own awakened Alynx to sidekick (+20 skill points) and the Hero gets the Hurt Hsunchen feat.
Vinga Defends the Clan [Heroquest]
During the Great Darkness, Vinga was a protector of the clans when the Warriors had left to hunt or raid. This Quest invokes Vinga to aid the defenders of the clan on there own Tula. It also gives the women of the tribe courage to take up arms in defense of the clan. The Riutal needs a Vingan to lead it but the rest of the participants are representatives of the other clan defenders and helpers and should be mostly women and non-combatants.
One day, Vinga found that the Warriors had gone on raids and left the people of the clan, now mainly women, almost defenceless. Their old enemies had enered the Tula so the people were afraid and feared for their children. Vinga spoke to the women of the clan telling them that they were not defenseless and set them to prepare traps for the raiders. The thieves came before the traps were ready, raiding an outer part of the Tula. Vinga called for support but the remaining men said they would not be lead by a woman. So Vinga and a few women rushed to protect the herdsmen and drove the thieves away. The men were ashamed by the tale of their deeds and said they would follow her. When the old enemies came back with more Warriors the traps were ready and the Tula guarded by the few remaining men of the tribe and the bravest of the women-folk including the clan’s healer. Some of old enemies fell into the traps, others fell under the women’s hurled javelins and the rest fell onto the defenders with a mad howl of rage. Some of the men were forced back but Vinga stood her ground and rallied them. Seeing this the women of the clan took courage, came to her aid and helped drive off the old enemy.
Find the Elements for the Ritual. Each item grants a +1 to the final Test
A pair of trousers to put on under your skirt
A pair of scissors to cut your hair short and sacrifice it to the wind
A pot of dye to colour your hair red
A spear called Lightning
A pair of javelins called Death and No Escape
A fine shield borrowed from Elmal
A fine silk scarf called Mist
A horn called Alarm
A pair of sandals called Darkness
A mother and child to reassure
A horse to ride into battle
A speech to gain the support of the women of the clan
The Women must drive off the Raiders to gain the acceptance of the old warriors and the other Men. Vinga must enlist the aid of the Hunters and other remaining men to find the Raiders, and must show that her Movement and Combat magic is as effective as the Men.
When the old enemies return, the traps must be ready and the Tula guarded by the few remaining warriors of the tribe and the bravest of the women-folk. This battle follows the usual stages of a Heortling battle: Contest of Champions, Clash of Warriors, then Fryd’s Battle.
Success indicates that the Women and Men of the Clan will offer the Vingan warrior-women their Total Support this next year (+5 with Clan Ring). Critical sucess, the women will join in any Battle on clan lands as will fight as Foot Fyrdmen. Fumble, the Fyrd will refuse to fight with in a Battle with women.