Tuesday, May 31, 2016

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #40: Fonzy Schlepprock

In the Gnomish City-States, the Schlepprock clan was a middling name.  No great warriors emerged nor did any despicable scoundrels.  The origins of the name have always been under debate.  There is no such geological term known as schlepprock.   Schlepp is only found in certain dialects of ancient Halfling tribes that wandered the lands around the Mer Med and Mer Kasps.  Translation is difficult as it appears to have a number of meanings based on the intent of the speaker:  Peacemaker, lazybones, Gnomely Gnome.  With the non-descript, but respectable history of the clan, it's hard to pin down the origin.

Fonzy Schlepprock was the rare Gnome Titan that never partook in combat with the Legions.  Certainly,he enlisted the same day he was eligible, which all Gnome Titans did.  He performed admirably in his training, even showing a talent with the shortsword in either hand.  In the middle of training, however he was injured by his instructor, the rare dwarf in the region with a thirst for discipline and mead.  No one else witnessed the accident, but it left Fonzy blind in one eye and with a distinct dislike for dwarvenkind far beyond the grudge his clan held.  Despite the dwarf's storied adventuring career and service to the Gnomish City-States, the disciplinary board believed Schlepprock's far more outrageous retelling of the encounter.   The instructor was removed, and Fonzie moved into an administrative post, assisting mid-level officers. 

He served his required tour with only bureaucratic distinction, using his position and clever words to rise up to the rank of Lieutenant, with a small pension to send back home to his family.  With that, he bid the military world adieu and left the Gnomish City-States, hopefully forever.

17th HepDec, 1135 - Akorros, Barthey Empire
If you could ask Fonzy today why he was in Akorros that day, and he was willing to tell the truth, it's not certain he could remember. 

There he was resplendent in the finest armor and garments he had "acquired" and had been telling tall tales to earn him early morning drinks from the men and affections from all others.  He had done the same for many days prior. 

With the early reports of the attacks trickling in, bar patrons looked to him for wisdom and strength. 

"Despite my youthful looks, my time as a general in the Gnomish Army was quite awhile ago, but that does not mean I can't get you to safety."

His silver tongue, sharp sword, and apparent knowledge of tactics convinced the half-drunk customers, as they all stormed out to meet a squad of hobgoblins.   They charged these monsters, all the while, Fonzy slipped back to reach the bar's stable, saddled up his war pony, and rode off in the opposite directions. 

He never led a charge that day, commandeering citizens to secure defenses and stall these strange invaders was easy.  As soon as the men were pre-occupied with the orders given to them, Fonzy would find another way out.   Although we can only assume the worst as the fate of those impromptu militias (Akorros was taken by the invaders, and every remaining citizen slaughtered or possibly enslaved) we don't know if these held their own, reach the docks, or find a side gate to escape. 

Fonzy's luck ran out when he ran into a group being led by some town notables.   They somehow managed to tip a juggernaut over, blocking the path of the attack for the monsters, and the locals could retreat back together.  The notable dragged Fonzy to the Mayor of Akorros.   After giving a testimonial of Fonzy's aptitude and vouching for his credentials as a General of the Gnomish City-States, the mayor was delighted to give him command of the city.   He made some troop movements on a map that was the equivalent to spitting onto a fire, but the Mayor was overjoyed by his confidence.

An hour later, the Burning Trogs were brought to the mayor's tent.  The mayor suggested that they fight alongside the general to rally the populace and perhaps organize a counter-attack.

This plan sounded horrible to Fonzy.   The General knew this new group was experienced and powerful, yet one of their gnome titans was already incapacitated, and the other one might not back down from an unreasonable fight.  

Once they all left the mayor's tent, Fonzy's first order was to head towards the dock, secure a command vessel, and aid in the evacuation of the harbor. 

The Trogs bought it, hook, line, and sinker. 

The group pounced upon some hobgoblins who had been killing escaping townsfolk indiscriminately.   After solving that issue, most began to help with the evacuation, getting as many people onto as many boats as possible with some people on board with sailing experience. Many would have to fend for themselves out on the open sea, but they could only focus on getting them out of the harbor. 

Fonzy and his attaché of locals secure a vessel and got everyone's mounts aboard.  He then broke the sorry news to the locals that the city was going to fall.  The invaders were moving too swiftly.  Half of them needed to go back the of the mayor's headquarters and get him to the safety of the docks.  The other half needed to go the treasury and recover whatever funds they could carry, to help finance the counter-attack.  The mindless yes-men sped off, and Fonzy untethered the boat.

Thanks to the fighting prowess of the Trogs, and the fact that sometimes helping people wasn't against their best interests, hundreds more were given the chance to escape.  Dressed in full armor, they weren't diving in to save people, but they were getting children reunited with their families, lifting cripples onto boats, and throwing ropes to people in the water. 

But even then, they knew that more effort was in vain, they headed back to the General's ship, as they found him, and four sailors.   They pulled the ship back to the dock in order to board the ship, and Fonzy gave the militaristic order to leave.

Fonzy:  "Go! Go! Go!!!"

Once out of the harbor, Zorin was unusually charitable with this high ranking gnome-titan, even offering his spare shortsword the the General.  No one had any idea of Fonzy's true nature or experience.

And to be honest, since everyone was safe and sailing towards Barthey City, no one cared.

For now...

Seriously, in a campaign where Hackmaster is the the system, who doesn't want to hear the words gnome-titan general on our side in a moment of crisis?   Fonzy brought hope and courage to anywise hopeless time, even if it didn't change any other facts. 

As a gaming group, everyone gave a hearty "Huzzah!" with just a tinge of trepidation, as Steve finally made his first gaming session with the group.  Steve was my friend, former college roommate, and player of two of the most memorable characters in my AD&D college game, Echellon, cleric of pigeons, and Ozark, a 4th level half-orc level who had reached max level 52 years prior (He was 74).    Playing a confident, charismatic Gnome Titan in a group that already had two of them was a welcome addition.  The group welcomed this young but seasoned commander with open arms, either failing to meta-game, or failing to realize that, without exception, all new characters in Hackmaster start at 1st level.    Lucky for them, Fonzy was a competent character under his alter ego.

Next:  Episode #41: Black Shield

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