Through the Stonelands


Year of the Worm, 1356 Dale Reckoning.

Chapter I

God of War
The Foehammer

1. Marshal’s Dawn

Boinn Hawklin got out of bed before dawn, offered prayers to no gods, no Powers, no saints, nor any demons. He did not don armor today as it was not practical to do so. He afixed the shield-shaped badge, a silver mountain on a purple field to his sash, letting anyone who saw it know that he was the Northern Army of Cormyr’s king-appointed Marshal.

Army of Cormyr, surely I must mean the Purple Dragons?

I am the God of War, Tempus, the Foehammer. I know the structure of Cormyr’s armies, mortal. Yes, the Purple Dragons are their knights, armed and armored gentry, heavy cavalry with squires, pages and retinues. There are platoons who are being assembled in non-traditional groups, small guerilla units made to react to enemies an army might not be able to reach.

However, Boinn comes from a family newly risen to the noble ranks. His father could not afford a squireship for his sons and daughters. Boinn rose up as a bannerman in Cormyr’s army - a grunt who learned the art of war among the rank and file after being a Bannerman.

He looked over the notes left to him from his staff during the night. He noticed that his wife, Kira Rowanmantle, had not yet returned from her night out with her adventuring company, the Drakes of Deepingdale but that is normal. His chief of staff, Lecka Blethin, entered with fresh notes delivered from posts during the night.

The Purple Dragon Knights who patrolled the area around the castle in the night returned, saying the patrol was quiet - nothing to report.

Bren Tallsword (never you mind the phallic jokes the soldiers make about his name), the Castle Crag’s castellan, requested 2 more companies drill today under his watchful guidance.

A letter from his father told him that a war engineer Boinn requested would be on his way, escorted by a distant cousin who could be trusted but would not arrive until the army had departed from Castle Crag. The engineer was important but not worth a delay.

And the last note, apparently last night his wife’s elder sister, Agni Rowanmantle, was accused of thievery and thrown in jail for refusing to accept a Purple Dragon’s search of her person when a squire accused her of stealing from him after a brawl.

Boinn sighed and though he didn’t know nor care, the God of War sighed with him. Wars and battles have been lost due to messes less than this tangled web of public brawl, social class and accusation. He saw his plan to use adventurers as a tool for his army being flanked by both noble titles of knights and his own family obligations. He saw his plan to create a bond between his army and the Dalelands being crushed by these two flanking forces.

“Squire’s name, Lecha?”

Lecha nodded, having this information ready, as she guessed that this note would be the first priority, “Squire Rory Huntsilver, sir.”

Huntsilver. Of course it had to be an old moneyed name, one linked to the throne for well over a century.

“Knight’s name?”

“Padraig, also Huntsilver, sir,” she said it almost in the tone of an apology. They both knew Huntsilver is an old name among Cormyr nobility with deep ties to King Azhoun IV, long may he reign (though he won’t reign long).

“That is first,” Boin said with a sigh.

Lecha nodded and followed him out of the keep and into the courtyard. His army was already gathered in front of the keep for the day’s training and inspection. They were not in formation yet but huddled together in small groups before the call to formation was announced.

25 knights with 5 War Wizards were camped on a nearby hilltop. The Northern Army of Cormyr was camped on the hill opposite, as Castle Crag was still under construction, though its walls were strong the barracks were not yet ready.

Nearby were the First Wing Company and Second Wing Company, both light cavalry. Despite their name, only horses - not griffons. The army’s sections were named after parts of a dragon in honor of the King’s Purple Dragon banner and the knights who have guarded Cormyr since its founding.

First through Fourth Scale Company made the largest body - 200 strong. First Scale is heavy infantry, led by Captain Tecla of Thunderstone. Second Scale, Third Scale and Fourth Scale were light infantry.

First Tail and Second Tail Companies were archers, led by Captain Cathan of Waymoot, whose ability to lead archers was only eclipsed by his ability to whinge, as he was that morning.

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GM's Notes

This is based on a Burning Wheel campaign I ran with my dear friend, Aaron, earlier this year. It was a 1 GM and 1 player game we played a few days a week during an odd time in both of our lives. I was just returning to Ithaca, NY and Aaron was preparing to leave. Something about that liminal space and our friendship forged in long years at the gaming table created something special. Aaron is an amazing player at any table but his instincts with Burning Wheel are something special.

Most of the campaign is written in this style, each section from the POV of a God or Power. I'll post one section a week for a few dozen weeks. Most of the setting inspiration comes from the Forgotten Realms Grey Boxed Set and the Cormyr supplement by Eric W. Haddock. I've got a little more than 24K words written and will probably need to write 5-10K more to finish up where we ended up.

If you have any questions or comments they are more than welcome.

Thank you for reading.


2. The Archer Captain and the Castellan

Cathan, the captain of the Northerny Army’s archers, was arguing with Bren, the castellan of Castle Crag, as Boinn approached. Though the words dried up when his Marshal arrived, suddenly sounding petty. It was the same argument as always, how the archers needed time with their bows, learning their ranges, not drilling under Bren, marching around the castle, practicing formations.

“Good morning, sir,” Bren said, “I was discussing the First and Second Tail joining me on the field for drilling today.”

Cathan sighed but didn’t quite roll his eyes, not wanting to show disdain for a plan that he knew his Marshal might very well order into action. “Sir, I have new recruits fresh from the forest villages with no real calluses on their fingers. These are feastday archers who need toughening up before loosing in battle.”

Cathan was a long body, as if Cormyr made some deal with Faerûn’s Powers for a certain kind of archetypal archer from the forest villages, fed on forest game and kingsmeal porridge, raised on competitive archery contests, westling and foot-racing.

Captain Tecla snapped a salute, her armor rattled, “The First will drill, sir, if you need someone to show the lazy archers how it is done.”

The other captains shook their heads and smiled at Tecla, who ignored them. The First had swagger because of Tecla’s willingness to put them where other companies don’t want to be and she knew it. Tecla’s hair was shaved short with short legs and long arms. It was as if she was made by Me to swing axes and bash faces with shields.

Boinn smiled at Tecla’s exuberence. “Cathan, you will drill for the first half of the day with the First. Second and Third Scales will follow for the latter half.”

The second half of the day is usually free from drilling. Boinn’s eye contact with Cathan made it clear that his extra drilling was due to his Marshal’s boredom with his recurring morning argument. Cathan made eye contact with Lecha and she shook her head at the archer captain, letting him know that he earned the enmity of the extra soldiers who’d have to drill. They’d know that two more companies had to sweat in the dust because a captain was argumentative.

Word had a way of getting around.

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