The Return to Apple Lane

Grindle’s Pawnshop was the first ever scenario that I ran, it came bundled in the box with RUNEQUEST. When it comes to RUNEQUEST, setting is everything, and the slim booklet of APPLE LANE was probably the most accessible way in to the world of Glorantha. It featured a hamlet set within the foothills of Sartar populated by interesting NPCs hiding secrets and lies. The siege at Grindle’s Pawnshop was the feature scenario. In the original, Grindle had purchased some exotic items from adventurers who had taken a crystal of Toothsharp from a gang of Baboons. Through the power of divination, Grindle knew that there was an attack on his shop planned, so he employs the player characters to protect his home, and more importantly, the artefact.

The Gamesmaster had to leave the room while the players decide where they are going to hide the crystal, which I always found a nice touch, an element that I preserved in this ‘remake’ or ‘revival’ of the classic scenario. The version that we recently played using the RQ6 rules was based on the scenario in THE SARTAR COMPANION that was published by Moon Design (for HeroQuest). There are elements of the old version (by way of a homage) but the story has developed to fit within the rich, dense history of the region provided by the supplement and SARTAR KINGDOM OF HEROES.

Below, there’s a run through of our game, it’s really there for our benefit (as a recap) but if you like that kind of thing, then please read on. Otherwise, you can leave now and do something more interesting instead. This was the third session using the Runequest 6 rules. Prior to this there was a character generation session and a couple of gentle encounters to get us into the rules. In addition to the character creation in the rules, I also walked them through some of the story elements provided in the HeroQuest supplements, so they could understand their role within the clan.

They are Olmarthings, a rebellious clan within the Colymar tribe, who are still reeling from the crushing of the Starbrow Rebellion by the Lunars five years previous to the beginning of the adventure. King Kangarl has been installed in the as a puppet and is rumoured to be consorting with a witch. He has declared Grindle Goodsell as an outlaw. A gang of thugs and mercenaries are being recruited to pay a ‘visit’ to Grindle. The Chieftain of the Olmarth, Gordanger, who’s father was the former king and an associate of Grindle. His father made an oath to Grindle as a loyal thane of The House of Sartar, to protect him. He has sent the player characters North to warn Grindle of the impending attack.

ASBORN’S STEAD

After a turbulent night on the edge of the Colymar Wilds, LEIKA and ORLAKOR took time to rest and dried their clothes in the relative comfort of Asborn’s stead. Their host introduced them to Garth, a member of the Blackspears, from the wilds. The Blackspears, also known as the Anmangarn, breed black bulls and are the custodians of the fabled blackspear – a powerful symbol of the Colymar tribe – they are fierce warriors who are both feared and respected by the other clans, despite being in an open feud with King Kangarl. Olgarth was very respectful towards Leika, he explained the young girl that they ‘rescued’ was almost certainly a thrall of the Lunar merchant. The language she speaks is Pelorian, a part of the Empire far to the north, beyond Dorastor. Asborn is concerned that the young girl refuses to bathe and that the women of the tribe have been unsuccessful in their attempts to reach out to her. The girl has made a small horse by banding twigs together. When Orlakor looked closer, it was a unicorn, with its horn removed, she handed the ‘horn’ to him.

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They started heading to Apple Lane so they could arrive before dusk. On the way, they saw the Lunar ‘slaver’ being attacked by trollkin riding giant wasps. They remained at a distance, watching the melee, leaving the merchant to his fate. They were too conspicuous, when the trollkin had ransacked the prone body of the merchant, they turned their attention to Leika and Orlakor who fought them off, thanks to a little luck.

THE TIN INN

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Apple Lane is a sleepy hamlet located in disputed territory between the Colymar and Malani Tribes.  It marks a crossroads between Jonstown, Runegate and Clearwine and it is surrounded by orchards tended by the Hiording clan. As they entered, they introduced themselves to a curious smithy who introduced himself as PIKU from the wandering metal-work tribe known as Third Eye Blue, so-called because of a blue circle tattooed on their forehead. He introduced his family – his wife Valeeda and daughter Yaku.

There was no one home at the Pawnshop so they headed to the Tin Inn, so called because of its tin roof, the sound of the rain hammering is deafening, but inside it was warm, full of a throng of bodies enjoying a hog-roast and their famous cider. There were farmers nursing their pots of ale, a several adventurers in black (probably from Pavis plotting suspiciously in a corner booth), travellers and the local thane.

Pramble a scholar and poet befriended Leika and Orlakor and embellished their story of Trollkin bashing as a tale of Giant slaying (drawing some unwanted attention from the others in the tavern). He also had stories about:

Hofstaring Treeleaper, the greatest king the Culbrea ever had. Over 100 years old when he fought Starbrow’s Rebellion, he was famous for his leaping ability and his incredible magic spear Chest-Breaker that fought on its own. He was almost killed when the Empire sacked Boldhome but escaped with his leap. Beloved by the Storm God, King Hofstaring summoned the great flood that destroyed the Lunar Army before the Hill of Orlanth Victorious. It is a source of great shame for the Culbrea that Hofstaring’s soul suffers in a Lunar Hell rather than serving as a thane of the gods as he deserves.

He also talked of rumours of the kin of the Chieftain of the Grey Dog Clan going missing in mysterious circumstances. After a while, he introduced them to Squinch Greybeard, a scholar, and Quackjohn, a duck who are both associates of Grindle.

PROTECTING GRINDLE 

Like everyone in the region, Grindle has had to sign a fealty to the Lunars and acts as the local tax collector. In his home, there is evidence that he is no longer the rich trader that once used his wealth to support the freedom of Boldhome.

He’s old and unmoved by the news that he is now an outlaw. Polite and gentle, he dismissed the idea that the Lunars and the Colymar king are after his wealth. He showed Leika and Orlakor his greatest remaining treasures:

THE EYE OF THE HALFBIRD – a gemstone that he got from one of the masters of luck and death over a decade ago. He said that it was the mortal eye of the immortal Halfbird – a strange creature born before the Emperor. Half of it proved mortal and is little more than a skeleton, the other half seeks to restore the dead half alive.

THE LEAD GRIMOIRE – a book that was recovered from a treacherous wizard some years back. He was outfitting an expedition to Cliffhome to speak to the Cragspider. He tried to recover the Grimoire (saying that it was important for a future meeting), but never pay back the loan.

THE IRON CARDINAL’S EGG – Originating from Wenelia from the ruins of the Slants. If properly warmed and tended, it will hatch a chick, but he was uncertain of the market value of a live Iron Cardinal!

Before long, a crowd of Tharlings, armed with an assortment of clubs and spears, began to gather around the shop. They were lead by Darsten, who began issuing threats through a ‘spy-hatch’ in the heavy-door. Leika and Orlakor laid traps and hid the artefacts to protect Grindle’s shop (and temple) being attacked.

“Grindle Goodsell you have been declared an outlaw by King Kangarl…” Darsten, thane of the Tharlings, parleyed for a short while, asking for Grindle to give himself over to the posse. The discussions were broken when a woman with her face painted half blue and half red rode into town flanked by Lunar cavalry. She hissed commands in a foreign tongue. She was looking for ‘the eye’ and insisted that it was handed over. Leika and Orlakor considered handing it over, but were persuaded by Grindle that it would not be good for the region if they conceded to the demands of the witch.

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Dronlan Swordsharp, the thane of Apple Lane, steps forward and declares that Grindle is under his protection and they should leave the area. There was a tense standoff until Erianda the witch, exasperated, dismounted, drew two iron scimitars and dismembered Dronlon. She then barked an instruction: “kill them all and burn down the place.”

She left with the Lunar soldiers. Seeing the opportunity to strike, Leika pierced Darsten’s throat with her spear, through the door. Orlakor picked off the Pavian mercenaries with his bow. Grindle stubbornly remained in his temple, invoking spirits of warding to protect his inner sanctum.

After a steadfast battle, The Tharlings were routed and the mercenaries killed. As they retreated they looked at Leika, framed in the doorway, and shouted, “Blackspears!”

Now, they need to escape, before the Lunars return and raze the Pawnshop to the ground.

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