Two weeks ago I was sat in a field, probably reapplying sun cream in the unexpected good weather and preparing for the weekend event. Every year the Fools and Heroes system gathers together for the biggest event of the fest season and spend three days in Ithron as a gathered force of Churches and Guilds engaging in the story being told by the CC and his team of refs and mission writers.
As always I wish I could summarise Summerfest better – but so much happens that it’s hard to pin it all down a single coherent story. The beauty and joy of Summerfest is that it’s an event for everyone, where everyone can pursue their own story and be their own hero. Most of the time you spend the weekend in character (apart from monster slots and a few hours helping behind the scenes) where you can interact with other people’s characters – drink, eat, sing songs, fight battles, place bets or play pranks – and simply exist. For me it rounds off the summer nicely, and its an event I look forward to in the years I’ve been part of the system.
I would like to offer my thanks (again) to the CC, the site refs, the adventure runners, the prop makers, admin monkeys, cooks, bar staff, helpers, first aiders, dogsbodies and general helpers who make this event and the other fests possible. You guys deserve a rest and plenty of drinks! I also look forward to the year ahead.
I will try to give an overview of the story of the event as best I can, but it will be biased towards the tale of Brigit and the things she (and her player) did.
Over the course of the last year a threat has been growing, formed from among the common men. It began as a movement against demons on the plane, but soon it became a cult who wished to seen an end to all extraplanar influences – gods included. The faithful can not allow this to occur and the cult went from being a simple group of rabble rousers to an armed militant force intent on taking control. The Cult of Mithra, in quartered green and gold livery, began to sweep across the country – taking Barra and slaughtering the faithful, seeking nobles in positions of authority to gain prestige and power, calling men and women to their cause. Perhaps it was too late, perhaps things had already been set in motion, but as the summer waxed to its fullness the Cult of Mithra was taking control and it felt for a time that there was nothing the adventurers, faithful or sensible people could do to stop them. People died. Adventurers became outraged.
And Hadsfield, the seat of the ancient power of the King, was taken by the Mithrans.
This could not be allowed to stand – and adventurers were called to arms to take back the site. But this time they would not be fighting foreigners or demons or monsters that could just be dismissed – they would be fighting Ithronians. The threat was much closer to home, and for some the question was asked – would they really be forced to raise arms against their own, and be expected to kill?
The adventurers congregated near Hadsfield. A Mithran encampment would be an ideal base of operations for them, however at that point in time it was held by the enemy. The camp was attacked, the Mithrans either killed or dispersed along with their automata, before their attention turned to holding the camp and getting tents assigned to the seven churches and the guilds.
Two groups set off to achieve objectives in the surrounding area – one to investigate a local source of magic, another to go investigate a source of the golems that were supplying the Mithans.
The group that went out to investigate a number of local soulfire “wells” – where magic can be found in some quantity – by a members of the School of Thaumaturgy, members of the Crowan Church, scouts, mercenaries and physicians. Heading into the woods they encountered a group of Mithrans who seemed to have been “augmented” with bits of automata. The adventurers had a closer look at the metal arms, feet, facial plates and eyes implanted in the dead Mithrans before continuing on and fighting off more of the Mithrans. They came upon a central circle with three individuals working inside, protected by magic. The mages detected a “stream” of magic flowing into the area from a nearby “well” of soulfire and went to take a look. They found a group of Mithrans guarding the well (with a small stone obelisk drawing out power like a sponge) and seized the well. The Schoolmaster of Thaumaturgy drew some power from the “well” and hypothesised that the well (and two others) were being used to power the protections that had barred their way. With two other members of his school they disrupted the flow of magic out of the well and began to weaken the barrier.
Ignoring the three people working on a subject within their protective circle (a physician, a mage and a dwarven blacksmith) the group continued on to the next pool of magic. A pair of Mithrans came dashing out of the undergrowth, escaping a group of dark elves and a cyclops who had taken the well for themselves. The adventurers agreed to let the cyclops drink the well dry (an all-you-can-eat buffet for a creature like this) before they continued on to the third well. Here they found a servitor golem in command of other golems which they destroyed, though not before the subject that the trio had been working on came to attack the party from behind. Made tougher, faster and stronger the Mithran took down many of the party before being stopped. The well was being drained too quickly by the spell connected to it and the mages had to carefully slow the power drain by taking small portions of power out of the well and diverting it elsewhere. With the spell disconnected from its power source the protective wall crumbled and the trio at the center realised they were in peril. They swiftly began to pack up their gear to escape, leaving only the oblelisk with its crystal gem and some tools and metal parts, hoping the reinforcements they had been expecting were about to arrive.
As the adventurers approached the barrier warily the trio of ne’er-do-wells ran off into the ranks of Mithrans who were not pleased to see a group of god botherers. Both groups met in battle and fought, but the adventurers won and returned to the camp after taking what they could from the site for further study. But as they crested the rise surrounding the camp a group of Mithrans came at them and hounded them into the camp before the remaining adventurers fought them off.
After that things seemed to calm down. Sure groups of Mithrans with their bullied peasant ranks occasionally attacked the camp and tried to retake it, but Brigit was able to amble into camp unmolested – having gone hither rather than thither, and left rather than right when she reached the fork in the road after stopping for directions. In the bright summer sun she stood in the middle of the camp and pushed her sunhat out of her eyes, looking for the Crowan shrine. Paying her respects to the shrine to Vleybor – the white lady of life and healing – she began to wander the camp until she passed a stranger in red who knew her name. Father Brandt, seemingly amused but stern, informed the novice that she was late and directed her to report immediately to the Crowan shrine which was tucked away in the corner of the camp. Once inside the tent Brigit was asked to consecrate the shrine. As Brigit made her preparations, Brandt and Greyson gathered the church. Using the tears of Primate Benedict DePiercy as a relic to call the focus on the shrine, Brigit cleansed the site and called their Goddess’s gaze to the site and her ears to their prayers. Members of the church prayed aloud or offered their thoughts on their faith, a communal sharing of teaching and prayer that was pleasing to their lady. Upon blessing the shrine the candles Brigit had lit as part of her preparations burned with a warming red light, but when the gathered Church had joined in prayer the candles blew out to be rekindled with an outpouring of warmth and a brief feeling of connection to their Goddess. Primate Leif called for the priests to remain behind. As Primate he had the blessing of their Lady to take items off the Shrine, as did Brigit as the one who had consecrated the shrine (which was a surprise to her too!) but all were appointed as Shrine Tenders for the duration of their stay in Hadsfield. It was their duty to protect the Shrine and keep it neat and pleasing to their Lady, but they would be allowed to place items and remove them in return for their diligent service.
Over the course of the evening the company were able to fend off the Mithrans, some able to convince some of the enemy to put down their weapons and surrender to the law, whilst making friends with their brothers and sisters in arms. But at some point in the darkness a number of demons appeared and snatched people away. The Kharachian Church suffered heavy losses when they went to investigate a ritual circle that had been scouted earlier that day, and the Primate of Crowa was snatched away by the Mithran heathens – probably to form some awful sacrifice. But through the skill and heroism of some of the Church and the Church of Tralda, along with other volunteers, the Primate was saved and returned to the company in one piece. There was a fear perhaps they had rescued a duplicate but after examination by the Physicians this fear was put to rest.
Two missions went out to try to retrieve the soul of the sorcereress wife of “Old Ben” in return for his help and to investigate a local source of men for the Mithrans from a disgruntled local noble.
Late that night there was a strange occurrence and the box Brandt carried on his belt was stolen and secreted out of camp by an ex-adventurer determined to rescue her friend trapped inside. With a plume of smoke he was set free from his prison and he was taken away for a thorough examination.
Early the next morning, after breaking her fast with members of the company, Brigit joined a group of adventurers who were tasked by a member of the Royal Guard to investigate what a group of mages were doing near a local soulfire well, whilst another group set out to recover some more physicians supplies.
Members of the Griffin Order, the Churches of Rolbor and Crowa and some mages and physicians set out upon the task. On the road out of the camp they were attacked by Mithrans and were able to convince a few to surrender themselves to the Royal Guard back at the camp. They came to a locked door guarded by some magical impression of a person who recalled very little of his life before being handed a gem – knowing only that he had been a captain of men at Hadsfield. Whenever the word “enigma” was said he would shimmer, but as the adventurers tried to puzzle their way past the “lock” they were somehow able to get the figure to say his own name in a sentence. He blinked out and the door opened, with the company sincerely hoping there would be no further brain teasers … But with a gem weighing heavily in Erulisse’s hand, it seemed unlikely they would be that lucky.
In the room beyond the door was a 6 x 6 board marked on the floor and a trio of statues. A scroll detailed a scenario, of two teams of three doing battle as pawns becoming knights, but never meeting. Assuming this was a game of chess most of the party tried to play the game, with another group heading off to look at the statues. They were able to solve their puzzle and obtain their gem before the Knights and Priests had solved theirs and only through divine intervention (and a liberal dose of luck) did they eventually realise the board was a Queen’s game (a chess puzzle) and were able to find the squares where none were in the same row or column as the others. A third gem was obtained and the party hurried on, aware that the sands of time were running out.
A fighting circle of three automata was too much of a challenge to resist for Sir Stewart DePiercy, however all was not as it seemed. As he stepped into the ring and fought the first challenger he found his weapons were having no effect until the correct magical elements were placed in a cauldron. Brigit helped with her tinder box to produce fire and with the three correct sigils invoked the weapons at the party’s disposal were able to destroy the golem. Fighting all three retrieved another gem and the insignia scrolls were taken for further study. As they fought their way up the hill they fought off a group of Mithrans and came to a table upon which they placed the gems. One of the party’s mages got swept into the portal and vanished. After playing around with the gems Sir Stewart and others were pulled into the portal and vanished to the party’s horror. They crowded round the table, turned outwards to prepare for combat and someone managed to get the portal to open. They were uncermoniously dumped out into a soulfire well with a group of Mithrans and golems engaged with the Head of the Griffin Order who was going to the aid of their mage who’d been stabbed, and chaos ensued. Once the enemy had been finished off a decision was made to cut the Mithran mages off from their source by stopped the outflow of magic. But how do you stop a well of magic from being magic? Turns out the answer was to earth the thing with bits of metal automata and whilst some of the party cleared out of the area, others lugged bits of metal into the circle and chucked them in under guidance from Erulisse.
As Brigit lent her assistance she was overcome by a wave of magic and fell to the ground writhing in pain. Unwilling to leave one of his company at the mercy of magic Sir Stewart hauled her to her feet and dragged her away to safety as the soulfire well was finally stoppered. Successful in undoing whatever mischief the Mithrans had been up to the party returned to the camp, though they were not entirely sure what the mages had been doing.
Throughout the course of the afternoon the Mithrans kept attacking the camp and two parties went out to disrupt alchemy supplies for the enemy and undertake dangerous guild business. At one point the enemy and their creations were able to breach the camp defences and began to run amok, but were soon repelled by the adventurers. More foul rituals were stopped, though at the loss of a member of the Templar Order, and Brigit protected the Crowan Shrine from all comers from her chair in the corner due to the physrep twisting her knee and ankle.
During the late afternoon / early evening Old Ben returned to seek the adventurers’ aid in restoring his wife to him. Her soul had been recovered (stolen and then recovered again) and an automata had been found that had been made to house her. However the soul itself was offered the choice of being laid to rest or put into a metal construct – and she chose the latter. This led to the bizzare and enchanting scene of an overjoyed sorceror escorting a gold mechanical woman around the camp introducing her to people.
A number of missions went out to locate blacksmithing supplies or seek potential allies over the course of the evening.
The Churches also met to discuss the matter of the rejoining of the Gods, which led to a heated debate among the Crowan faithful. However the choice was put to a vote and the Church voted to remain Crowan rather than attempt the Abrowan way for a year and a day, and other Churches had a similar round of debate. However, only two Churches of the six that could merge have chosen to remain as they are – and only time will tell whether this will strengthen the work of the Gods or undermine them.
There was also the joyous event of welcoming new members to the Church, Brigit having talked his ear off most of the afternoon in amongst the action against the Mithrans. With a sound cleansing from 5 priests and a blessing, Ronald Patridge joined the church and the numbers of warriors of the light grew.
Sunday is battle day – with the battle lists being posted around breakfast time. Brigit joined the group who set out to prevent a group of reinforcements reaching Hadsfield, and before the battle united the adventurers in a prayer of fellowship and courage for what they were about to face. This was backed by the new High Primate Lady Olivia of Vleybor and the General, before the group went out to face their foe.
They attempted to save the lives of those people who would surrender to them – Brigit assisting in saving two after someone attacked them and then cut their throats for good measure. On the field of battle many more were saved, but they faced more than simple Mithrans with their constructs and frightened militia. Demons and Konnish and undead raked the lines and a number of demons came to have words with the School of Demonology. However the adventurers were victorious and pushed back their foes – Brigit joining the fight against a horrific lava demon with wings that tore through the ranks and scattered people after she was feared back away from the front line. However her walking stick was cleaved in two and she was left fending off it’s claws with her shield as her remaining weapon appeared to do it no harm.
She helped High Mother Anne in cleansing the cooling lump of metal for good measure, though the Primate of Longstor was adamant there was no corruption left upon the land, and the warriors returned to the camp to lick their wounds and mourn their dead (and get into monster kit).
The second battle was the main force facing the Mithrans at Hadsfield and the adventurers endured wave upon wave of Mithrans, terrified militia men and women, and strange and unusual constructs bound in service to the Mithran cause. A senior general eventually took to the field but was defeated and Hadsfield reclaimed for King and Country. Alas there were more dead to mourn and these were brought back to the camp with due reverence and ceremony.
Whilst the Crowans mourned the loss of Supplicant Hugh McLoric and some people let off some steam with some competitive games of Troll Ball or duelling, nobility of Berwickshire came to the camp. His Grace Duke Sir William DeVilleret, his niece the Lady Genevieve DeVilleret and his aide Baronet Quinn Dexter arrived having been delayed on the road from Norham to meet with Sir Stewart DePiercy to consider the proposed marriage match between the two younger nobles. As the knight and lady were permitted to speak under chaperone, the Duke heard testimony of the newly appointed Knight Commander’s character from members of his Order and other adventurers before making a judgement. If he is able to find a suitable ring then Sir Stewart will finally marry.
Brigit eventually got back into the camp having been waylaid elsewhere and spent the rest of the evening in the company of her church and new found friends, to return north to bring the ill news of the young priest’s death to his family.
And so this was how Brigit became a Veteran of Hadsfield, appointed Shield Maiden and Sister of Crowa.