Fridays Unleashed 3-20-2015

Last week we talked about the Chieftain career and mentioned the pint-sized powerhouse of a chieftain, Gullin Oakbreaker. Gullin is a pygmy troll, and like many pygs his tribe are connected to the powerful trollkin race. In the Unleashed Adventure Kit, Gullin is out to get Warlord Morrg for stealing something very valuable to him: members of Gullin’s own tribe. The following new piece of short fiction gives you a brief glimpse into the mind of the pygmy troll chieftain.

Gullin Oakbreaker tugged one of two throwing axes from his belt and sent it hurtling end-over-end toward the scarred trunk of a tree. It landed with a satisfying thwack, the blade embedded several inches into the wood. Before Gullin could draw the other axe, the whelp riding atop his shoulder rushed to retrieve the first.

The whelp leapt atop the protruding axe handle and pulled without result. Gullin snorted and chomped on the end of his cigar. In the weeks since the whelp’s creation, the pygmy troll chieftain had grown fond of its foolish antics. He had taken to calling it Knuckle, though it had grown from his entire severed hand. The creature served as a reminder of Gullin’s defeat at the hands of the farrow warlord and the subsequent capture of his people, a defeat that weighed on his mind even now. He glanced toward the charred huts that stood in the small clearing beyond the trees. Now and then one of the pygmy trolls sifting through the ruins looked in his direction expectantly.

“The others say to ask the Toborg Kriel to fix this,” Gullin said, to himself as much as to Knuckle. His voice was gruff and he spoke around the smoldering cigar. “What chief begs trollkin to fight his battles?” He launched the second axe, and its blade sank into the tree just above where Knuckle struggled to free the first. The whelp uttered a string of gibberish and wedged its body between the two handles, trying to leverage both axes free.

“Morrg is full of tricks. It will take a strong leader to best him,” Gullin said. He crossed to the tree, tore free the axes, and returned to his throwing position. Knuckle scrambled back to his shoulder. “Am I not strong? Am I not a leader?”

The whelp climbed atop Gullin’s bowler cap and attempted to grab his cigar as the chief rolled it from one corner of his mouth to the other, an unconscious habit he exhibited when trying to puzzle out a problem. The pygmy troll threw one of the axes back into the tree. Knuckle took off like a shot and pulled like mad to free the weapon, undeterred by its earlier failures.

“Perhaps I am foolish,” Gullin said. “Perhaps we do need the Toborg.” Knuckle ducked as the other axe connected with the tree. The whelp immediately shifted its focus to freeing that weapon. Something in the creature’s blind determination resonated with Gullin, who had always been something of a brawler. Knuckle acted on instinct, discarding forethought entirely. Perhaps in some cases instinct and determination were not enough.

Gullin exhaled a cloud of smoke in a sigh and pulled the rim of his bowler cap low over his eyes. He moved to retrieve the axes but stopped when Knuckle dislodged one for the first time since they began. The whelp jabbered triumphantly as the weapon tumbled to the dirt. It dragged the axe to Gullin’s feet and rushed back for the other.

“I’ll be damned,” Gullin said. He considered the axe and then looked through the trees at the remains of his village. An unfamiliar quiet had settled over those homes spared the torch, their inhabitants now captives of the farrow raiders.

“Come.” Gullin fixed both axes to his belt and pulled Knuckle up to sit on his shoulder. The whelp plucked the cigar from Gullin’s mouth and took a pull. In imitation of its creator it exhaled a cloud of smoke and puffed out its chest.

Gullin drew himself up. “I am strong,” he said. “I am a leader. I will solve our problems myself.”

Gullin is resolved to rescue the kidnapped members of his tribe and see Morrg pay for what he’s done. Some other pyg chieftains might go running to the trollkin to do the dirty work, but Gullin is determined to be at the head of any rescue effort. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and waiting for things to get done, he’s tackling them head-on. With the other player characters in the adventure kit Gullin is a peer among equals, a tough warrior and brave chieftain united with the others toward a common goal.

As Gullin gains experience, he can enhance his formidable combat skills through the Warrior career, focus on becoming a superlative leader through the Chieftain career, or combine both approaches. No matter the direction selected for him, players who choose Gullin will learn quickly that great things truly do come in small packages.

The Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Roleplaying Game Adventure Kit is available in stores and online now. Get a FREE taste with Iron Kingdoms Unleashed: Introduction to Savagery and read more about the heroes Lurk and Longchops in Unleashed Legends: Blood in the Water.