Welcome Traveller. Here can be found the second in the Jotun of the West interactive gamebook adventure series, A Murder of Crows, and within these pages a most surprising and unusual quest. What shall be uncovered here is the brutal and uncompromising world of the Jotun, told as Tansen'Delving is preparing for his father, Agror, to meet his End of Days. Much has transpired since Tansen's finding of the emurion'ka but there are many who wish his destiny to remain unfulfilled, and those forces are now moving against him. A Murder of Crows is a story concerned with loyalty and honour, and the ties that bind brothers in the face of corruption and betrayal. What can be found here is the power of the Jotun and the desperation of those who fear that power.
In this gamebook you are the main character, the success or failure of your quest determined entirely by the choices you make. The destiny of Tansen'Delving is completely in your hands. To get the most out of this gamebook please read carefully the rules and directions given below. A Murder of Crows is a solitaire adventure with its own rule system, set in a world with its own unique histories and cultures. If you wish to learn more about the world of Arborell then all the information you will need can be found at www.arborell.com. Additional information specific to this gamebook can be found in the appendices provided at the end of the adventure. For those who may not have played a gamebook before we should begin however, by providing a short introduction on the nature of gamebooks; what they are, and how they should be used.
A gamebook is an adventure divided into many parts, a work of interactive fiction that allows you to make choices as to how you might wish to proceed within the story. You will combat those that stand in your way, collect artifacts and other items that may prove of use, and ultimately win through to your quest's end.
To read a gamebook in the same way as you might read a novel will make little sense. It is both a game and a book, where the endurance and skills of your character are every bit as important as the choices you make. It is important to note that even though this adventure has been designed to be read on-screen, it still requires that you roll dice where necessary, and maintain a paper character sheet to record your character's progress. To enjoy A Murder of Crows you will need the following items:
To prepare properly for your quest you must first determine the rules of the game, how to create your character, how to combat your foes, and how to account for items found or decisions made. Once you are familiar with the rules and have created a character, you may then begin with the introductory section that sets the scene for the adventure to come. Each section of the story will give you options that you may take, combats to complete or questions that you must answer. It will be how well you play the game that will determine your ultimate success.
- two six-sided dice,
- a pencil or pen, and
- a printout of the character sheet.
(Please note that a text version of this character sheet is available if you do not have a pdf reader.)
- a printout of the map provided that encompasses the northern lands of Kraal Delving.
(A text version of this map is also available.)
A Murder of Crows requires that you spend a small amount of time considering the attributes of the character you will be playing in the story. In this gamebook you are Tansen'Delving, most favoured son of Agror'Delving, Chieftain and Consul of the Jotun of the West. If you are unfamiliar with the world of Arborell, and the brutal nature of the Horde, then there is much information that can be found at the Chronicles of Arborell website and within the numerous books that makes up the chronicles themselves. Such information is not necessary to enjoy this adventure however.
The introduction to this book entitled "The Making of a Disquiet Mind" gives everything that will be needed to begin. Appendices have been included that provide considerable detail of the mythology of the Oera'dim and in particular the rise of Qirion'Delving and the breaking of the Word of Command in the Ancient World. This information will provide some insight into the reasons for the challenges that lay before Tansen, but of the three appendices provided the appendix titled "Blade and Hammer" is the most important. To understand the Jotun Art of Vengeance is to understand exactly why Tansen must do as honour dictates. All will become clear however, as you proceed through this adventure.
It must be noted also that this is a large adventure that allows a reader to take many different paths, and explore both ancient ruins and the magic of Arborell. There is much that is hidden here, you need only go looking for it.
To begin however, you will find within this book a character sheet, provided as a pdf document and also available in a simple text format as well. This sheet provides you with space to determine your character attributes, keep notes on what you find on your quest, and record the combats you will be forced to complete if you are to be successful. Most important in your preparation for your quest is the consideration of your character attributes.
At the top of the sheet you will find a list of five character attributes; strength, agility, endurance, luck and intuition. At this stage you have a choice; you may use the character attributes and talent choices that you have previously used in the first book, Shards of Moonlight, or you may develop a new character profile. If you decide to use your previous character profile then copy that information over to your new character sheet. If you wish to develop a new character profile do so according to the information that follows.
Your character has fifty character points that you must distribute between these five attributes. You will notice that each attribute has a set of numbers given in brackets next to them. This is the minimum and maximum limits that can be ascribed to each. For example, the strength attribute allows for a minimum number of character points of 5 and a maximum of 11. How strong you want your character to be will be determined by the number of points you give him within this attribute. All fifty points must be used, but they must be spread within the limits given for each. Distribute these points carefully. It is not only strength and endurance that will see you through this quest.
A Note on Equipment
Unlike some gamebook adventures the equipment you will be taking on this quest is not decided before the adventure begins. You will find that a short distance into the text you will be able to choose equipment items and that other useful gear will be discovered as you make your way across the vast Moss Plains of northern Arborell. How you record this equipment found is outlined in the Notes section given further in this introduction.
Once you have determined your character attributes the next step in developing your character is to choose two talents. These talents enhance certain aspects of your character's ability to complete this quest and should be chosen carefully. It is not mandatory that you do so, but you may choose two of the following ten talents. Write the talents you have chosen into your character sheet, and if you wish write the specific nature of these talents into the Notes section as a reminder.
1) Strength of Gedhru
A player with the Strength of Gedhru allows an automatic success for any Strength or Agility attribute test required if you are trying to climb, or drag yourself, out of a hole or pit. The traps and dangers that litter the ruins of the world are a constant threat to the success of any quest and a strong arm can save you from many of them.
2) Hamulkuk's Courage
This talent is for those who enjoy charging into combat without thinking, only to discover their opponent more than a match for them. If you choose to possess Hamulkuk's Courage you will obtain an advantage of +1 to your Combat Value purely due to your faith in your own abilities. This advantage lapses in each combat if you lose even one endurance point. A wound will automatically return your combat value to its normal level for the duration of that combat. Your next combat will find your Courage once again restored.
3) Back to the Wall
A character who possesses the Back to the Wall talent will gain a temporary +1 advantage to their Combat Value if fighting any creature whilst trapped in a room, dead-end or narrow ravine. If you are lucky enough to survive the combat, your Combat Value will return to its normal level once you have found a way out.
4) Beast Slayer
If you choose the Beast Slayer talent you will gain a +1 advantage to your Combat Value when fighting any creature other than Hordim or Man. Note that this talent cannot be chosen if you already have chosen the Hammer Focus or Vehmin Bane talents. Critical hit rules apply if you are facing any beast other than a Dragon and have selected this talent.
5) Vehmin Bane
A Jotun who possesses the Vehmin Bane talent will enjoy a +1 increase to Combat Value during all combats with any Man of the South. This talent cannot be chosen if you intend to choose either the Beast Slayer or Hammer Focus talents as well. Only one of these three talents can be used during any one adventure. Critical hit rules apply if you are facing any living Man and have selected this talent.
6) Leap of Fate
The Leap of Fate talent allows a player the opportunity to re-roll any three unsuccessful jumping attempts. This talent applies to any attribute test required as a part of a leap.
7) Skin of the Teeth
Choosing the Skin of the Teeth talent provides a player with the ability to survive a reduction of endurance points to zero or less. This talent allows you the opportunity to keep fighting after being reduced to zero in any combat, but for only as long as you win all further combat rounds in that fight. If an opponent can be defeated before your character is wounded any further you will survive, and be given 1 bonus endurance point to continue your quest.
8) Shaman in the Making
A Shaman in the Making exhibits unusual affinity to EarthMagic. This affinity is expressed in a heightened sense of intuition. This talent gives the player a +1 to their Intuition attribute and the ability to re-roll on any two failed intuition tests. If you already have 5 character points ascribed to your Intuition attribute it is within the rules to increase this attribute to 6 if you choose this talent. If this is the case all Intuition tests will automatically be successful and the ability to re-roll is not necessary.
9) Hammer Focus
A Player who chooses Hammer Focus will have a +1 increase to Combat Value for as long as they wield a warhammer. If at any time a hammer is lost, or replaced with a more potent weapon, combat values must be returned to normal levels. Note: This talent cannot be chosen if you are intending to choose either Beast Slayer or Vehmin Bane talents. Critical hit rules apply if you are facing any living foe other than Dragons and have selected this talent.
10) Blessed by Providence
If the talent of Blessed by Providence is chosen you may re-roll any two failed luck tests during the course of your adventure. This talent cannot be chosen if you intend to choose the Leap of Fate talent as well. Only one of these can be chosen at a time.
Once you have finalised your choices regarding character attributes and talents you must then look to the completion of the remainder of your character sheet.
Your character's combat value is one of his most important attributes. This value is determined by combining the strength and agility attributes you have given your character, adding any bonuses allowed from talents you may have chosen and then recording it on your character sheet. Although a high combat value is useful in the course of this adventure there will be times when you must rely on something other than brute strength to see you through. How combat value is used in the adventure is described later in this introduction.
Endurance points are the measure of how healthy your character remains as you progress through this adventure. When you have determined how many character points you wish to ascribe to this attribute record it on your character sheet. During the course of your quest your endurance points level can never exceed this initial value. They will however, decrease as you are injured in combat or fall victim to the traps and other dangers that will confront you. If your endurance level falls to zero then you have died, and it will be on another attempt that you must look to finishing your quest.
Whereas there are many gamebooks that provide separate spaces on their character sheets to record such information as artifacts found, treasure uncovered etc, A Murder of Crows requires only that anything interesting found or identified on your quest be written into the notes section. You will find that you will visit specific places and converse with important entities, find some items on your travels and record information for further reference. All this can be done in the notes section of your character sheet.
Jotun to English translations
There has been included on the character sheet a small section for translations of important Jotun words you will encounter on your quest. These words are only a small part of the vast vocabulary of the ancient language of Haer'al, which is the source of most Oera'dim dialects. If you find a word used in the text of the story that is not listed in this section it will be found in the First Book of Haer'al available from the Chronicles of Arborell.
Depending on the choices you make in this adventure there will be times when you will need to defend yourself. Combat is resolved in the following manner:
- Record the combat value and endurance points of your opponent in one of the boxes provided on the character sheet.
- Roll two dice and add your combat value to what you have thrown. This is your combat strength for the round.
- Throw two dice and add it to your opponent's combat value. This is your adversary's combat strength for the round.
- Compare both combat strengths. The higher combat strength wins the round and an amount of endurance points must be taken from the loser's total endurance points. If the winner of the round has a combat strength four or more points higher than his opponent then he has struck a heavy blow and four endurance points must be taken. If the winner of the round wins by three points or less then he has struck a minor blow and only one endurance point need be deducted.
- Combat continues until either yourself or your opponent's endurance points fall to zero. At that time the combat is finished and one of you will be dead.
Critical hits on double rolls of 6.
The rules above apply for all combats conducted within this quest, however for a player who has chosen either Beast Slayer, Vehmin Bane or Hammer Focus talents a further rule applies. If at any time in the course of a combat you roll a double 6, and you possess any of the talents mentioned, then you have rolled a critical hit and will have killed your opponent outright. This advantage applies to all combats except when fighting Dreyadim or Dragons, or if the text specifically excludes this rule from the combat.
A Note on the Windhammer Enhanced Combat System
As an alternative to the standard combat sytem described above the Chronicles of Arborell now provides a more indepth combat experience for players who want more control during hostile encounters. It should be noted that the WECS is an alternative combat system, but one that uses the basic stats provided with each encounter in this gamebook and is compatible with any Chronicles of Arborell adventure. If you wish to try this new combat system with your character in A Murder of Crows the Enhanced Combat system player's guide can be found here.
The Jotun Code of Honour
It is an important point to note that the Jotun of the West adhere to a strict honour code. When a combat is commenced they will not cease fighting until their opponent is dead or flees the field of battle. They do not run from any attack, and as has been proven in many battles against the Four Nations of Men, they do not leave any wounded behind. Entire crues of Jotun warriors have fallen in defence of their wounded; and as is also the case with their greatest nemesis amongst Men, the Dwarvendim, they do not retreat from a position when a standard is planted by its bearer upon a field of battle. This honour code is outlined in part within the appendices section of this gamebook. Before beginning your adventure you may wish to read the appendix, Blade and Hammer. There you will find a short introduction to the Code and the Jotun Art of Vengeance.
Testing your character's attributes
There will be times during your quest that one of your character's attributes may be tested. Whether it be your strength, agility, intuition or just pure luck you will be required to roll dice against them to determine if you have succeeded or failed. It is a straightforward test. If you are required to test against your strength for example, you will be required to roll two dice and then compare the number rolled against your strength attribute. If the number you rolled is the same or less than your strength points then you have passed the test and can proceed according to the options given for being successful. If you roll higher than your strength attribute then you have failed the test and another path in the story will open for you. All attributes except endurance can be tested. Apart from your strength attribute, all other attributes are tested with a single die.
Note: In this rule system attributes are not reduced each time they are tested. Apart from endurance, which will vary according to the combats you complete, all attributes remain at their initial starting values for the duration of the adventure.
In the world of Arborell the Nahla tree is of great importance to both Man and Hordim. It is said that the fruit of the Nahla is so powerful as a recuperative medicine that even the smallest amount can increase health and vitality. For centuries travellers of the realms and wastelands of the world have used Nahla fruit to sustain them on arduous journeys. For the Men of the Four Nations, Nahla Bread is the preferred method of preserving the power of the fruit for long journeys. For the Hordim it is Nahla Cakes.
On your journey you have in your possession three Nahla Cakes. Each may be eaten at any time on your quest and each will restore six endurance points. The only restrictions in their use is that they cannot be eaten during combat, and when consumed your total endurance points can never exceed their initial value.
Rations and other Foodstuffs
In the course of this adventure you will find many items including rations and other types of food. Each of these items of food will be the equivalent of a single meal unless otherwise noted within the text at the time of their discovery. These foodstuffs can be either eaten or kept for a latter time when they might be needed. Please note that all other rations or foodstuffs eaten will return four points to your endurance.
The Use of Text as Place-holders
You will notice as you progress through this adventure that at the moment many of the sections hold the same text message. A Murder of Crows is provided online but is to be released in a series of instalments. As each of these instalments are uploaded the number of sections with this text message will decrease until all will have been replaced with the real section material. For the moment these sections are acting as place-holders that make the inclusion of the new material quicker and easier. If you encounter one of these messages it acts as a notification that to continue with your adventure you will need to wait for the next instalment to be uploaded.
Starting your adventure
When you have completed your character sheet, and are satisfied with the distribution of your character points you are ready to begin. A Murder of Crows begins upon the windswept Moss Plains of northern Arborell. You need only click here to begin.
This site, and associated books and other documents are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. The Jotun of the West gamebook adventure series is a part of the Chronicles of Arborell. Any questions regarding the Chronicles can be answered by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org