Ars Magica Adventure
“He’s got a big heart”
by Kevin Hassall
A brief story (taking about an hour to play) for grogs and Companions. Ideal for filling in a bit of time at the start or end of a session.
RUNNING THE EPISODE
The characters should be a small group of grogs and companions, with no really strong combat characters. They are travelling back towards the Covenant – returning from a market or nearby city, perhaps – and are about a week away from home, when they stop off for the night with a friendly farmer. Make their host the brother in law of one of the characters, a retired grog, etc. – someone whom the characters will want to help.
The farmer’s hamlet is currently being plagued by a giant, a “troll” according to the locals. The creature lives up in the forest, in the hills, and has been there as long as anyone can remember. He lives (as is usual for trolls) by a bridge, and he supports himself by hunting wild boar – setting snares for them, much as a smaller person (like a human) would set snares for rabbits.
About a week ago, the creature started coming out of the hills each night. He walks towards the hamlet, and towards the nearest fields (where the characters’ host’s sheep graze), picks up a couple of sheep, tosses them in a sack, swings the sack over his shoulder, and heads off for home.
All of the hamlet’s animals are at risk, and most immediately at risk are the flocks of the characters’ host and friend. He begs for their help. If they return to the Covenant to get magical back-up it will take two weeks – equal to 28 sheep stolen, which would ruin their friend. They must act now.
CONFRONTING THE GIANT.
Giant. You know, fe-fi-fo-fum. About 20 feet tall, uproots small trees to use as clubs in close combat, favourite missile weapons are boulders, thick as manure, Mythic strength, huge Soak.
Each evening he strolls out of the forest with a big, dumb grin on his face, singing soppy love-ballads to himself in the most tuneless, thunderous voice imaginable – probably getting the words wrong. You know, “Green-slugs is my shady love and Gree-een-slugs is my tum-de-dum!” and so on. Arrows bounce off his skin, and if people wave swords at him he thinks it’s a greeting and waves joyously back at them – “hullo little man-things!” If anyone does actually hurt him (“Ouch!”) he’ll just kick them out of his way, and if they block his path or otherwise delay him (“I haven’t got time to play with you, child-sized people!”) he brushes them aside.
Fighting isn’t an option.
WORKING IT OUT.
The characters have two basic options – talk to the giant, and investigate his home in the woods.
In conversation he is easily distracted, singing his songs, being stupidly happy (“the trees are green and life is won-der-ful!”). He doesn’t really want to talk for long. He has to get a couple of sheep, and he needs all of his minimal brain-power to compose a poem. He’s been composing for a week, and at the moment his masterpiece runs:
“My love your eyes are very BLUE,
I really really DO love YOU,
I know you really love me TOO,
Do-do, do-do, do-do-do-DO.”
(He isn’t sure about the first line, given that his love’s eyes are brown, but considers the change to be artistic license. He can’t think of anything to rhyme with brown.)
Back at his hut, is his Love. Whenever he is there, she is five feet tall, with blond hair, cherry lips, big brown eyes and a sugar-sweet voice. With a flutter of her eyelashes and a little smile she can get the giant to do anything she wants.
Under the bridge, down by the river, are the much-chewed-on carcasses of about fifty boar and a dozen sheep – all eaten in the last month, it seems. The problem is that, while the Giant would usually eat half a boar or sheep per day, his Love eats two or three per day – and he just can’t snare enough, which is why he’s raiding the hamlet.
Of course, when he isn’t there, his Love doesn’t bother with the disguise. When he’s out hunting she is ten feet tall, equally wide, with stone teeth and a voice that roars. If the characters arrive at the hut when the giant is out checking snares (in the day) or raiding (evenings) she will be encountered in this state.
The Giantess, like the Giant, should have a Mythic Strength, huge Soak, etc., etc. She is not charming to visitors (“Go ‘way or oi eat you, shtoopid little man things!”) – unless the giant is around, in which case she is shy but pleasant. She is devious, but not especially intelligent.
The Giantess is, of course, using the giant to get all her food for her, pretending to love him and adopting the shape of a petite woman. She actually despises him – all the more since he has fallen for her ruse.
Since the characters should not be able to defeat either in combat, they are going to have to expose the Giantess. This might mean winning the giant’s confidence and getting him to hide in the woods during the day – so that he can see her in her true form as she wanders around by his hut – or anything else that the characters can come up with. It’s about roleplaying and communication, not about rolling dice and shedding blood.
The whole thing is likely to end up with a huge lover’s tiff (breaking trees over each others’ heads etc.), and the Giantess stomping off into the woods to find some other dupe. The Giant, then, will have no need to raid the hamlet. He may – depending on the players’ roleplaying – also be very remorseful, begging to be allowed to do something to make up to the hamlet for the thefts.