Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (We Know Where Mackey Lives)

Gaven says:  "I think we should go east, we know that is where Mackey resides." The cleric steps up to lead the way with his shield and spear, keeping a sharp eye out for traps.

Duran agrees with Gaven and draws an arrow, notching it as he prepares to follow Gaven.

"Let's move on then," concurs Oloc. "Maybe we will not have any need for the reinforcements after all!" The Mage then draws two daggers and readies himself for what may come. He falls in line behind the other party members.

Agreeing with the others, Varros readies his bow and proceeds along with them.

Ignoring the passage to the north, you make your way stealthily down the tunnel to the east. Gaven spies no traps, and you arrive without incident at another cavern with a few bits of rubble, small stones, and dust scattered around the floor. The air is not as damp and cool as it was when you were near the pool.

There are no signs that this chamber is used for anything more than a passageway. You can see multiple lines of footprints in the dust, running back and forth from the cavern entrance where you are standing to an exit in the northeast of the area. The outgoing tunnel at that exit appears to run due north.

You notice again the faintest glow of torch or firelight coming in through the far exit, and you can barely perceive the sound of voices coming from off in the distance in that direction. You cannot make out the sense of the conversation due to the distance and distortion of echoes. But based on what you can hear of intonation and voicing, they do sound human.

The Red Arrow indicates the Free Company's current location and direction of movement.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Toward the Light)

"What say you," whispers Oloc to the rest of the party. "Likely there are more bandits around the bend from where the light comes. Should we move up and try and surprise them or should we examine the hole in the rubble here first?"

"I would hazard a guess that this hole in the wall is for Mackeys pet snake," says Duran quietly. Perhaps we should plug the hole before moving on so nothing comes out behind us."

Looking around, you see plenty of loose rock at the base of the rubble-fall to use to block up the hole.

Upon Duran's mention of the snake, Gaven turns to the porters and Stan and says, "let us see if we can find and catch some vermin to distract the snake."

While Duran picks out a few likely rocks, Gaven and Stan quickly set a small trap with the cleric's sack, baited with rations, to catch a rat or two. Karnak seems to realize what Gaven and Stan are doing, and he flies off into the shadows, returning quickly with two small live rats, one in each talon. A moment later Gaven's trap pays off, and one more rat – a bit larger than Karnak's is caught.

The rats are quickly tossed up into the hole to distract the snake, while Duran and Varros heft a few of the larger rocks up to the opening, jamming them forcefully into place. In a matter of seconds, the hole is thoroughly blocked up. It would take quite a bit of strength to move the rocks out again. Certainly it could never be done quickly or quietly, so you are quite confident you will not be surprised from that direction. Anyone or anything trying to get through the hole now will make more than enough noise to give you adequate warning to react.

With the hole blockaded, the party creeps up to the illuminated opening leading to the cavern to the west, as Oloc suggested. The porters extinguish the torches so as to not give away the party's approach. You make almost no noise, but straining your ears as you close in, you hear nothing either. Oloc, as the lightest armored, is the first to peer round the corner into the room, ready to signal for a charge depending on what he sees.

However, the mage quickly signals instead to relax, and waves you forward to join him at the corner.


The cave appears to be a barracks. It is lit by torches jammed into crevices in the walls. Numerous blankets and bedrolls are strewn about the floor. There are several rucksacks, backpacks and pouches scattered about among the blankets and bedrolls, as well as a dozen unused torches leaning here and there against the cavern walls. But there are no bandits within.

There are two other openings in the cavern, other than the one in which you are standing. The first is to the north, the second to the east.  Each is about 20-30' wide.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

The time is now 4:20 p.m.

The reinforcements Alanna sent should arrive around 6:00 p.m., give or take, just as a reminder.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (The North Tunnel)

Oloc says; "I don't think we can stay here unnoticed for long. My suggestion would be that we push forward as fast as we can, perhaps trying our luck to the north."

The Mage then points to the pile of rock and rubble along the side of the passage. "I think maybe we should be wary of those stones. Perhaps it is another trap? Let us scan the floor very carefully for any wires or other devices."

Gaven agrees with Oloc, but says, "if there is time later, I would like to investigate that dead end."

Duran will follow the others' lead, keeping his bow at the ready in case of any trouble. He hands torches to the porters before leaving the light of the campfire.

Meanwhile, Varros follows Duran's lead on the opposite side.

Swede, who seems to be untroubled by his transition from leader to follower, loads his crossbow and makes ready to move up with the group.

Having recovered Ollie's equipment, Gaven grabs the 10 foot pole and takes the lead as the group explores to the north. The cleric prods the ground and area around the rubble from a safe distance before continuing forward. He keeps a sharp eye out for traps on the ground, walls and ceiling.

Gaven finds no traps, but approaching the pile of rubble along the west wall, he notes an opening in the pile, just over head-high to a man, round, and just wide enough to comfortably crawl through.

It appears as though perhaps someone or something had cleared away the rubble to make a small passage through it to what appears to be an open space beyond.

This much you can tell standing on your toes. More than that you cannot determine without someone clambering up on the pile to take a closer look. The pile is steep, but not so steep it couldn't be climbed with little risk.

The tunnel you are in is very wide, easily 20' across, and after going north past the rubble it curves to the east, where it opens into what looks like another cavern, illuminated by torchlight from within.


********************

OOC: Actions?

Wow, I can't believe I actually got in an XP trivia stumper there.  :-)

"Momma, Look Sharp" is from the musical 1776 which the Maryland Public School system decided we needed to watch over and over again (at least once annually) in the years of and following the American bicentennial.

And of course, even at that tender age, being the history geek that I am, I thoroughly enjoyed it each and every time, though I can't say the same for my classmates.

"Momma, Look Sharp" was a song about a young soldier calling to his mother as he lay dying, hidden in the tall grass of the battlefield:


One of those strange things where the song started buzzing round my head while I was writing in the dying bandit.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday, 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Momma, Look Sharp)

After being certain that Ollie is okay, the Mage asks the others to tend to the boy after he is brought around. He then turns his attention to the dying lad.

Oloc tries to do what he can to save the boy's life, although it looks to him like it may be a lost cause. The young bandit has lost too much blood, and his skin is already pale and cold. Still Oloc tries to ease his suffering. He tells the lad that he will make to see his mother.

Gaven aids Oloc in taking care of the boy. He rips up some more of his cloak to try to bind the wound. It seems however that Oloc's assessment is right. The bleeding just won't stop.

Gaven asks the boy his name and tries to keep him talking by asking him questions about how he was hurt and about the bandits and Mackey and about his mother.

The dying bandit doesn't say much, and a lot of what he does say becomes rather incoherent. You are, however, able to piece together this much by connecting the fragmented statements with the physical evidence you've seen.

The young bandit heard the commotion of the fight and went out to investigate. He tried to snatch Ollie as the latter made his break from Swede. The bandit overpowered the hireling and dragged him back to the cave but, coming over the rubble at the entrance, Ollie must have grabbed a fragment of stone and resumed struggling. Ollie stabbed his captor in the leg, giving him the wound you now see. The bandit knocked Ollie out before he himself fell to the ground. He tried to drag himself toward Mackey and the bodyguards, but he couldn't make it, and managed to get only to where you found him.

When Gaven asks about Mackey, the boy just says he's sorry, he tried, that he hopes Mackey won't be too mad with him. "Tell Mackey I tried, I tried."

When Gaven asks the boy about his his mother, the youth sobs some more, and says something about Yuletide, and cookies, and mumbles "I'll go to the forest mum, and get you the best tree ever..." With a final intake of breath, the young lad expires.

Gaven says a prayer in the boy's name.

While Oloc tends to the boy Duran restarts the fire in order to shed some more light into the cave. He keeps his bow close and is ready to react should any enemies come in sight. He gets the fire relit with no problem. It makes surprisingly little smoke, and sheds enough light to keep the entire area illuminated.*

Varros keeps a watchful eye over Duran as he goes about his work, his bow at the ready. Varros motions to Swede to keep focused on the corridor the air is coming from while he keeps watch on the other.

Swede nods in agreement, and positions himself at the entrance indicated by Varros.

Varros, looking north, can see a twenty-foot-wide tunnel that extends north, and then curves east. Some feet up the tunnel, along the west wall, is a pile of rock and rubble that reaches almost up to the ceiling some fifteen feet or so high. Apart from this nothing else can be seen without moving further up the corridor with a torch.

Once his prayer is done, Gaven suggests that the party check out the area with the pool of water to make sure nobody will be able to come at the company from behind.

The party follows Gaven's advice and moves past Swede's position, into the eastward tunnel. The tunnel shortly opens out into another cavern, this one about seventy feet across, with a large forty- to fifty-foot-wide pool of water in the center. The water appears clear and dark, but unmuddied, as you might expect in a stony cave.

The rocky floor around the pool is fairly smooth, hard, wet and slippery. On the slick north bank, you see a waterskin abandoned on the ground. Closer inspection reveals that the skin has a hole torn in it, and was likely just tossed aside as useless.

Around to the southwest of the cavern is a small stump of a tunnel, which extends about forty feet before coming to a dead end.

 One square equals ten feet. The party is in the room with the pool.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Time is 3:30 p.m.

*I assumed that your sweep with the torch earlier was complete and that you had seen everything there is to see, so no new detail becomes apparent. However the firelight does have the benefit of keeping the entire cavern visibile continuously, unlike the torch.

25 XP Bonus for the first person to name the source of the "Momma, Look Sharp" reference. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (The Mouth of the Serpent)

Oloc scratches his head as he ponders the new complications to the situation.

"As for Swede's news, I say we keep an eye out for the 'reinforcements'. He may be telling the truth, but to be honest, I am more concerned with saving my skin than being a judge of Alanna's previous love interests."

"First priority has got to be getting Ollie back. He must have been jumped by a bandit patrol." Oloc looks at the torn piece of cloth again. "I'm no hero but we can't leave the boy - that wouldn't be right."

He looks at the others. "So, our hand seems to be forced. I say we go in after Ollie."

"It does indeed look like Ollie has been taken," says Duran.  "If our ... friend ... here is willing to join us I think we stand an even better chance to getting Ollie back," Duran continues gesturing to the hobgoblin. "Either way we need to get Ollie back."

Varros agrees that the group's top priority should be finding Ollie, as does Gaven: "Yes, we must rescue Ollie."

Oloc then looks at the hobgoblin. "Can we count on you to fight?"

Swede nods and says: "You bested me, and I've got nowhere else to go. You can count on me."

"Swede, we will see if you are a hobgoblin of your word," Gaven says patting his club head in his hand. "However, if you move to betray us, I will smite you."

The bounty hunter grunts.

Gaven adds: "We will have to be on guard. The villains have had time to re-fortify."

*****

The party cautiously advances toward the mouth of the cave that serves the Red Serpent as a hideout. As you approach the opening, you see that the bandit who was previously ordered to clean up the area did his job relatively well. A path has been cleared through the rubble, and the dead bandits have been laid off to the side, all in a row, cloaks draped over their faces.

As you move past them, Swede lets out an almost inaudible whistle. "You boys don't fool around do you? I imagine there can't be too many left inside."

Entering the cave mouth, it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the dim light inside. Bill quickly lights a torch, enabling you to see a bit better.

The cave you've entered is quite large, about 50-60' wide across its narrowest dimensions, and curving around to the north.

About 40-50' in, you spot Ollie lying immobile on the cave floor. Much to your relief, you discover that he is merely unconscious, albeit with a rather nasty bruise on his forehead. 

You note a rather large puddle of blood on the floor next to him. Beside the puddle is a long, thin, extremely sharp shard of stone – similar in texture and color to that of the stone which you made fall in the entrance. The dagger-like fragment of stone also glistens with blood on its sharp end, from the pointed tip and continuing several inches up its length. The puddle of blood on the floor smears off into a streaked blood trail around the corner leading to the northern area of the cavern.

Quietly following the blood trail, you notice an extinguished campfire in the middle of the cavern, a stack of firewood along the west wall, and about a half dozen unused torches leaning against the wall nearby.

The blood trail itself leads to the curled up figure of a bandit on the floor next to the pile of firewood. Your first reaction is that he might be dead.

Getting a better look at the rest of the cavern, you note that there are tunnels leading out of the area to the east and to the north. The air to the east seems particularly damp and cool.


Suddenly from the position of the bandit you initially assumed was dead, you hear a sob and a weak voice that wimpers: "I don't want to die."

Approaching the fetal form of the bleeding bandit, you notice that he has an extremely deep gash on the inside of his thigh. It seems fairly clear to you that a major artery has been severed and that the bandit doesn't have much time. Looking at his face you see that he is very young – perhaps no more than fifteen or sixteen years old – and his skin is pale as death itself. He appears to be the one Mackey was ordering around earlier to get the mess in front of the cave cleaned up.

The dying bandit suddenly notices your presence. "Mackey?" he addresses you. "I got one of 'em. One of them as killed our men." His breath gets shorter. "I did good, right?" he asks. "I tried to do good." A sob catches in the young bandit's throat once more. "I wanna go home," he says. "I want my mum." He grits his teeth and tears stream down his cheeks.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Sorry I didn't post a bit sooner, guys. Work has been especially unkind this week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Good Cop? Bad Cop?)

As the others question the hobgoblin Duran, bow at the ready, steps into the woods and slowly circles the group keeping an eye out for anything and hoping to find a sign of Ollie.

Gaven addresses Swede's accusation of Alanna: "I have little reason to trust you hobgoblin. Explain your sullying of Alanna's name. What is her and Mackey's relationship? Why are the freelancers untrustworthy? And why would she deal with the likes of you?"

The hobgoblin replies: "Alanna? Share secrets with me? Hmph! Not in a thousand years, she wouldn't. But I know certain people of low repute, who occasionally have information."

"It cost me a couple of ales, and I don't know how my source learned this, but from what I hear, Alanna and Mackey were an item. More than just business partners, though they were in business, too. He kept his bandit activity limited enough that she could turn a blind eye, while simultaneously taking a percentage of what he and his men stole."

"But Mackey's rivalry with Messer, up north, got the better of him. Messer started expanding, making a name for himself and his Grey Fox band. I've heard that Messer's even taken up headquarters in Blackwell – and that takes some sizeable stones."

"So Mackey wants his name on the fear-trembling lips of every traveller as well, and starts robbing folks left and right. As an officer of the guard, corrupt though she may be, Alanna can't let him do that – not uncontrolled. That level of activity just can't be kept quiet. So she breaks off the deal and the relationship. Mackey changes hideouts, and the lieutenant starts trying to hunt him down."

"My guess is those reinforcements she's sending you are ruffians who plan to simply kill Mackey on sight so he can't talk. They may even be under orders to kill anyone who already has him prisoner. And Alanna will imagine her little secret to be safe forever."

"I can tell you this, too. Knowing what I do, I had no intention of bringing Mackey back to her alive, myself. If I did that, there's no way she'd believe that he didn't tell me about their deal, and I'd spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder."

"If you want my advice, don't turn your back on those freelancers for a second, and don't take Mackey prisoner. Just kill him – it may save all our lives."

"Alright Swede, says Varros. "It appears that we need to work together for now." Varros makes introductions and then assists Duran. He asks Gaven to watch the cave mouth.

"I am concerned about Ollie's absence." Oloc rubs his chin. "He wasn't wounded was he? Did anyone see what direction he went in?"

No one knows for sure, though Jack says he thinks Ollie headed north. With no better info, Oloc helps look for the missing lad, but not stray too far afield himself. Stan offers to help as well.

So Gaven, Gweneth and Jack, keeping a close eye on Swede, move up the trail toward the cave mouth to take up a surveillance position, while the searchers begin to beat the brush for signs of Ollie, linking up with Duran on the way.

Karnak is the first to spot something, some yards north of the path to the bandit cave. Alighting on a branch, the raven gives out a quiet squawk. The rest of the search group soon comes upon him, and see that caught on that branch is a torn piece of shirt sleeve – the same shade of blue Ollie was wearing. A thorough search of the vicinity reveals broken twigs, smashed brush and trampled undergrowth all around, as if a brief struggle took place. You see no blood at all, but it appears that something heavy was dragged east, gradually angling in toward the trail in the direction of the bandits' cave.

The search party follows the path of the dragging, and the path finally converges with the bandit trail itself, almost on top of the overwatch position now occupied by Gaven and the group with him.

*************************

OOC: Actions?  Time is now about 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (What Swede Has to Say for Himself)

Gaven takes a long drink of water after binding his wounds. Before standing up to survey the situation, Gaven says a prayer of thanks to the Light for allowing his survival of what he thought were grievious wounds. Standing, Gaven stretches a bit to test his work. Once he satisfactorily fixes them he retrieves his spear and moves behind Swede with his club in his hand.

Oloc walks over to Swede and shakes his head."This was all unnecessary. Your men now lie dead because you wouldn't listen to me."

Swede looks at his dead companions and grunts.

The big hobgoblin sets the butt of his crossbow on the ground, so that it points up in the air, targeting no one. "So," he says, "What now?"

The Mage calls out (not TOO loudly) to the hirelings, hoping they'll hear him. Stan, who had already made contact with Duran, arrives just as Oloc calls out. The mage directs Stan to retrieve his weapons and Oloc does the same.

Turning to the others, Oloc adds. "We still have some time before the reinforcements arrive. I suggest we bind Swede and form up into a tighter defensive position. Perhaps Karnak can stay aloft as an eye in the sky for us, should any more unwanted visitors approach."

Putting his axe away and drawing his bow, Duran nods in agreement with Oloc's plan as he keeps a watchful eye on the Swede.

"Perhaps the noise we have made will draw a few fellows out of the cave that we can waylay," he adds hoping to put a positive spin on what has just happened.

Varros nods in agreement with Duran at Oloc's plan. He then calls to Karnak and praises him while rewarding him with a bit of meat. "Karnak, if you continue to prove your mettle so often you may find yourself too fat to fly!"

The raven affectionately nips Varros' finger, then takes off, evidently understanding his own role in Oloc's proposed plan.

Varros then offers to take a look at Swede's wounds and bind them, but the hobgoblin raises a hand to indicate his ministrations are not needed.

Varros continues: "Swede, you now find yourself in quite the predicament, what do you propose we do with you? I for one know that our companion Gaven would just as soon smash your skull to bits with his club."

Gaven looks at the hobgoblin menacingly as Varros mentions his name.  

Varros adds: "Do you have a better suggestion?"

The bounty hunter looks around the group, especially at Oloc. "You'll have no need to bind me," he says rubbing his chest where Oloc's magic missile struck him. "I'll be no trouble." He stands and removes the quarrel from his crossbow. He holds it out for all to see, pinched between his index and thumb, and gently places it into his quiver. Swede looks as sincere and earnest as you imagine a hobgoblin bounty hunter could.

"Besides," he says, "you may actually need me before this is all over. I wouldn't put too much trust in those reinforcements you say Alanna sent you."

Anticipating your question he quickly says: "Oh, they'll come here alright, just as you expect. But you should know that she and Mackey have a history, though she's managed to keep that quiet. And I hear that story hasn't been a pretty one of late. Those reinforcements? I'll wager she's sending you some kind of freelancers, rather than king's men, or I'm a kobold. You can mark my words that no good will come of that."

As Swede utters these last few words, Gweneth, Jack, and Bill wander up to you, and pick up their weapons from the dead hobgoblins at Oloc's instruction. Ollie, however, still has not returned.

You also neither see nor hear any sign of bandit activity.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Swede is still unbound, for the moment, as I figured he would give his "you-don't-need-to-bind-me" statement before you would actually do it. You can, of course, still attempt to bind him anyway. I just didn't know if you'd still want to or not after his statement.

If you have any questions for Swede, just go ahead and send me a list, as usual.

Also, thanks for the feedback guys, I appreciate it! I'll keep those explantions/clarifications coming then.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Pale death, with impartial tread)

Breathing heavily, Gaven says to Karnak, "Thank you Karnak, You are a worthy companion..."

Hearing the commotion and seeing Oloc running towards him, Gaven hides himself with his back against a tree. Now comparatively safe, he rips his cloak and begins to bind his wounds.

Varros continues to attack Anders with his sword, calling out to Karnak to attack as he does so. Karnak immediately dives to Varros' aid. Anders presses forward, but the combination of Varros' flashing steel and Karnak's slashing talons is too much for him, and the hobgoblin is soon lying lifeless on the ground before them.

Oloc runs past his comrades in the hope that they can draw off the chasing hobgoblin, causing him to stop short and deal with them, giving him the time to prepare his spell.

Meanwhile, guessing where Swede is headed, Duran slings his bow over his shoulder and draws his axe rushing towards Oloc and Gaven in order to meet the hobgoblin with his axe when he appears.

Oloc dashes past Gaven and Varros and takes up a position in cover beyond them, just as Anders breathes his last.  The mage turns to face the oncoming hobgoblin; Gaven and Varros follow his gaze.

From the west, they see Swede rush out toward them, and then from the south Duran appears unexpectedly, axe raised to intercept. Swede is quick to react, but with Duran coming to his right, there is no way he can turn and shoot his crossbow in time. Instead he thrusts the butt of the weapon at Duran's head, but to little effect. Duran makes a clean cut with his axe, catches only Swede's leather vambrace, which glows slightly and sparks as the axe hits it. Swede, however, seems unharmed by the blow.

As Duran engages the head bounty hunter, Oloc draws the scroll tucked into his belt. He focuses his mind and reads the writing upon the parchment. As he does so, the parchment begins to burn with a red flame that consumes each word as the mage gives voice to them.

As Oloc speaks the final syllable, the flame expands into three swirling crimson spirals that wind and writhe around his entire body. With a violent gesture Oloc points his hand directly at Swede, and the summoned energy gathers itself into a single searing beam of light that strikes the hobgoblin full in the chest.

The hobgoblin is kicked backward a good five feet by the blast, and lands hard on the ground. Winded and barely able to speak, the bounty hunter raises a hand and gasps: "No more, I yield."

Three bounty hunters lie dead, Gaven is wounded but has stopped the flow of blood, and Swede is lying on the ground, slightly dazed, but still with a loaded crossbow.

Thin rays of sunlight filter through the trees, catching the last of the dust in glittering sparkles as it settles around the dead.

*************************

OOC:  Actions?

Note: due to binding (which restores 1d4 hp), Gaven is now back up to 6 hp.

Time now is 2:30 p.m.

Reminder: your reinforcements are expected around 6 p.m. As I mentioned in the post before this encounter began (http://westkingdom.blogspot.com/2012/10/thursday-12-july-1280-midday-patience.html), if your plan is to wait for the reinforcements, we'll go to one WM check per hour; if no WMs appear, we'll just jump ahead to when the reinforcements arrive (once any interactions with Swede are done, of course – though your interactions with Swede will just be counted as part of the first hour, in terms of WM checks).

Reminder: your hirelings are scattered and have no weapons; Oloc has no weapon either (the weapons are held by the dead hobs).

*****

Combat Details:

A. Varros/Karnak vs. Anders

Initiative: Varros/Karnak – 1; Anders – 5

Anders:
Attacks Varros: d20 = 10 + 1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 12 (miss)

Varros:
Attacks Anders: d20 =14 (hit); d6 = 5 (Anders killed)

Karnak:
Attacks Anders: d20 = 18 + 1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 19 (hit); d6 = 5 (Anders very definitely dead).

B. Duran vs. Swede

Initiative: Duran – 1; Swede – 2

Swede:
Attacks Duran (butt of crossbow): 2 + 2 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 4 (miss)

Duran:
Attacks Swede: d20 = 13 (miss)

C. Oloc:

Casts Magic Missile at Swede: auto-hit, d6+1 = 6 (Swede wounded)

D. Gaven:

Binds wounds: d4 = 4 hp regained.

*****

Note on initiative (just for transparency): normally I've been doing group initiative; in this case (the last few posts), since the party was so dispersed, I broke things down into what seemed like logical groupings. As a rule I'll use group initiative unless it seems to really make more sense to split it up for some reason (as here). In some extreme cases I'll just assign positions in the sequence. For example, here it just made sense to me that Gaven's unopposed action of getting to cover and binding would really be immediate, and therefore first, no initiative rolled. Similarly Oloc taking a move action and then casting a spell seemed to be a "lengthy" full-round kind of thing that would logically just come at the end, again no roll.

One question: I tend to put these explanations in the end of posts where I make judgment calls that depart from or bend the rules as written. I'm not sure whether you guys are really interested in the explanations or not. If you find them distracting, I'll stop including them. If you're interested in seeing my rationales, I'll be happy to keep putting them in. I'm okay going either way. Let me know your thoughts please?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (An Increasingly Bloody Affair)

Hearing that the fight has already started behind, Oloc realizes now is the time for action.

"Run," he shouts to the hirelings as he darts back towards the path in the direction of the cave.

As Oloc runs east, the hirelings scatter, sprinting away from Swede in different directions. Gweneth and Jack disappear into the trees north and northeast respectively, while Stan moves southeast, roughly toward Duran's position.

The hobgoblin bounty hunter swears in his native language, but doesn't take a shot, as the four party members dash too quickly into the cover of the woods. With a snarl, he takes off running up the path in the direction of the fighting.

As Swede makes chase, Duran turns to cover Oloc's flight. He draws back on his bow and lets fly with two arrows, but between the cover and the moving target, neither missile finds its mark. Then Stan practically stumbles into Duran, panting heavily, as Swede, Oloc, and the other two hirelings move out of Duran's line of sight.

*****

Up the trail, Varros drops his bow and draws his sword, attempting to kill Anders, whom he had sidestepped. Unfortunately his blow swings high as his adversary ducks. The hobgoblin ripostes with a vicious hack, but Varros successfully deflects it with his blade. 

At the same time, Gaven throws aside his spear, grabs his club and attacks Lars, "For the Light!" The cleric swings the club in a mighty arc – in the shadows beneath the dark canopy of trees, the trailing curve behind it seems to glow faintly with a silvery light. The hobgoblin nearly dodges Gaven's swing, but the club catches Lars' shoulder.

Unfazed by the sudden appearance of the magical weapon in Gaven's hand, Lars strikes back, once more slicing Gaven with his axe, this time across the cleric's left thigh (OOC: Gaven takes another 1 hp of damage). Gaven is now bleeding profusely from his two wounds, and he staggers.

Suddenly, from above, Karnak streaks down into the fight, raking Lars' neck, face and throat with his talons. The cuts go deep, and Lars falls, blood spurting from the gashes.

*****

Oloc, rapidly outdistancing Swede, soon comes up the trail and enters upon the scene of the mêlée just in time to see Gaven take his second wound and to see Karnak's swift attack. The mage can see that Varros is holding his own, but Gaven looks to be in bad shape, though out of immediate danger since Lars is down. As he takes in the situation before him, Oloc can hear Swede pounding up the trail behind, perhaps some 20 to 30 feet distant by the sound.


*****

OOC: Actions?

Visibility:
  • No one can see the hirelings or Swede, Gweneth or Jack.
  • Oloc can hear Swede pounding up the trail behind him, and can see Varros, Gaven, Karnak,  Anders, Duran and Stan.
  • Varros, is preoccupied with his own situation – he is now directly aware only of Anders. He still has a vague sense of Oloc's direction, but he doesn't know exactly where he is (i.e., he doesn't know Oloc has run back, or that Swede is right behind Oloc), and he of course is aware of Duran's position (but doesn't know Stan is there too).
  • Gaven, upon looking around, can see Duran, Stan, Varros, Karnak, Oloc and Anders.
  • Duran can see Varros, Gaven, Karnak, Lars and Anders, and, at the end of the round, can now make out Oloc, who has just entered into view at the edge of the combat scene. While he cannot see Swede, he knows that Swede was following after Oloc, and he has a rough sense of where Swede must be.

Note: Gaven is now down to 2 h.p. (one more hit is all but guaranteed to finish him off).

*****


Combat Detail:

Initiative: Varros and Gaven – 2, Hobgoblins – 1

A. Swede's reaction roll (no initiative roll) indicated no shot + running to help in the fight (which dictated the sequence: Oloc runs, Swede follows, Duran shoots)

Duran:
Shoots at Swede: d20 = 6 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 7 (miss)
Shoots at Swede: d20 = 5 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 6 (miss)


B. Varros and Gaven fight Lars and Anders

Varros:
Attacks Anders: d20 =12 (miss)

Gaven
Attacks Lars: d20 = 16 + 1 (Maggie's Ribbon) = 17 (hit); d6 = 1 + 1 (Maggie's Ribbon) = 2 (Lars wounded)

Anders:
Attacks Varros: d20 = 13 +1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 14 (miss)

Lars:
Attacks Gaven: d20 = 16 + 1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 17 (hit); d6 = 1 (Gaven wounded)

C. Karnak (passes "arrives-on-scene" roll and gets one attack at end of round)

Attacks Lars: d20 = 17 + 1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) +2 (from above, unseen) = 20 (hit); d6 = 1 (Lars killed)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Who Brought the Handbasket?)

Oloc looks at Swede. "Tell your men to be cautious. My companions are up there, staking out the cave. If they are surprised by your men, things may get ugly unnecessarily."

Swede simply glares at Oloc and raises a hand for silence.

*****

Duran remains hidden, bow at the ready, waiting to react depending on what happens to his comrades.

*****

Varros stands his ground and lowers his bow slightly to appear less threatening and says steadily to all in earshot, "Everyone hold, we have a misunderstanding."

Gaven sneers at Varros's words, muttering almost inaudibly, "Filthy hobgoblins." Gaven grounds the butt of his spear into the ground, but does not loosen his grip on either spear or shield.

The advancing hobgoblins visibly perk up at Varros' words. They zero in on the group and dash forward, charging in from three sides.

Seeing the charge, Duran unleashes on the hobgoblin nearest him, Anders, but both his arrows fly wide of the mark.

Varros raises his bow to shoot at Axel, coming straight toward him up the middle. His first arrow is deflected by a tree branch, but a second rapid shot pierces the hobgoblin through the chest. The force of his adversary's charge carries him forward where he drops dead on the ground at Varros' feet.

Meanwhile to the right, Lars plows through the undergrowth. With the butt of his spear already pressed into the ground, Gaven is in a position to simply brace behind his shield and receive the charge.

Lars is quick and cagey, however, and at the last second he sidesteps the spear, then takes a spinning swing at Gaven with his axe, slicing the cleric across the arm (OOC: damage 3 hp).

At almost the same time, Anders rushes in from the left and tries to bowl Varros over. But Varros is swift to react and he easily moves out of the way as his new enemy hurtles past him.

*****

Swede listens intently to the combat which he cannot see. Oloc can sense that the big bounty hunter is not happy with what he hears. Silently, but in deadly earnest, Swede motions for Oloc and the hirelings to keep quiet and start moving back down the trail westward, away from the bandit cave.



*************************

OOC: Actions?

Given that I rolled a charge for the three hobgoblins' reaction, I made what seemed the most logical responses for your PCs based on comments regarding intentions, equipment in hand, or stance (e.g., that Duran would shoot once violence appeared inevitable, that Varros could get his bow up quickly enough from its slightly lowered position to shoot before the charge came home, and that Gaven, grinding the butt of his spear into the ground would simply set it and receive the charge).

Visibility/Targeting Notes: Essentially the same as before. Duran can see everybody, and at a glance he can see that Swede is trying to move the hostages (and he realizes he may not be able to see them much longer). Gaven is engaged in melee, but sees Duran, Varros, Lars and Anders. Varros is not technically engaged in melee, as Lars' momentum from the charge carried him past. Varros sees Duran, Varros, Lars and Anders as well. There is no indication that any of the hobgoblins have actually spotted Duran.

*****

Combat Details

Initiative:  Duran, Varros and Gaven 5 – Hobgoblins 1

Duran
Shoots at Anders: d20 = 8 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 9
Shoots at Anders: d20 = 7 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 8

Varros
Shoots at Axel: d20 = 12 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 13 (miss)
Shoots at Axel: d20 = 15 + 2 (close range) -1 (cover) = 16 (hit); d6 = 5 (Axel killed)

Gaven
Receives Lars' charge: d20 = 3 (miss)

Lars: d20 = 19 + 1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 20; d6 = 3.

Anders: d20 = 10 +1 (normal to hit bonus for his HD) = 11 (miss).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Creepers)

Swede keeps a close eye on Oloc and the hirelings, with a firm grip on his crossbow. Oloc continues to play it cool and manages to keep the hirelings calm. The mercenaries, while far from comfortable, look like they're handling the situation alright, but Ollie and Bill exchange worried glances, and Oloc can practically see the lumps they have in their throats.

Off to the flank, deep in the brush, Duran continues to hide, watching and observing, waiting for the right time to reveal himself or take action. For the moment, none of the party seems to be in deadly danger – apart from simply being held prisoner by Swede, which mostly looks unpleasant, but not yet life-threatening.

Varros and Gaven follow Duran's lead as Duran has a better view of things than they.

Meanwhile, the remaining three hobgoblin bounty hunters – Axel, Lars and Anders – begin to creep forward up the trail to the east, with Axel gesturing to the other two to indicate from which direction the noise came. After a moment, Varros and Gaven realize that Axel is leading his two companions directly toward their position.

As the hobgoblins come to within about twenty feet or so of Varros' and Gaven's position, Axel gives a sign to Lars and Anders to quietly creep around the flanks. It's all too evident that the noise Axel picked up must have come from the fighter's and cleric's position, and that the two party members will be surrounded in a matter of seconds.


************************
OOC: Actions

Visibility is same as before.

Sorry this post took me a little longer than normal to get out -- I'm buried under a stack of papers to grade since Wednesday. I'll be under that pile of paper most of the weekend as well, but I'll be handing them back on Monday, so my pace should return to normal.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (All Clear?)

"Ok, ok, easy friend." Oloc motions for the hirelings to lay their weapons at their feet. He tucks his scroll back in his belt. The hirelings do as he indicates. 

The hobgoblin visibly relaxes somewhat, and hisses toward the foliage. "Lars! Anders! Come out and take the weapons." Two other hobgoblins, armed with axes, and slightly smaller than the one with the crossbow, come out from hiding to the north and warily pick up the dropped weapons.

Oloc speaks again: "Let us be civilized here. As I said, Alanna has sent men to help us. They should be here in a matter of hours. Then all will be clarified."

The large, crossbow-armed hobgoblin lets out a breath. "Alright, then, civilized it is. Maybe you are bounty hunters after the bandits just like us, but I'm not sure I want to wait hours to clarify things. Still, we can at least start by exchanging names. I'm called Swede. Now you can tell me your name, and those of your friends. Then you can lead me to the companions you mentioned near the cave mouth, and we can all have a nice chat together."

Swede then quietly calls up the bandit trail to the east. "All clear, Axel?"

*****

Duran continues to watch and listen as the scene unfolds around him. He keeps his bow at the ready and quietly moves around slightly to the south, and finds a position from which he can get everyone in his view and stay hidden.

Sneering at the sight of hobgoblins, Gaven sees Duran sneaking and stays still so to not let creaking armor alert the hobgoblins to their presence. Gaven readies to charge if necessary.

Varros eyes the hobgoblin with suspicion with his bow at the ready. He struggles to hear what is happening. As he listens it takes all his willpower not to let his arrow fly. Because Varros can hear a conversation he waits, assuming that if there is a dialogue perhaps all is not as it appears.

*****

"All clear Axel?" calls Swede quietly to the hobgoblin east of Oloc and the hirelings. The hammer-armed hobgoblin, who had been peering in toward Oloc and company, and following the conversation, twists around to look up the trail toward the cave. Then he suddenly starts, and goes stiff.

"I'm not sure, Swede. I think I just heard something."

"Damn!" snarls Swede under his breath. "You, you, and you," he says, shepherding Oloc and the hirelings into cover with one hand while keeping the other on the crossbow. "Get in here and stay quiet." He keeps the weapon aimed at the group.

"You two," he says to Lars and Anders. "Move up with Axel and check it out."

The two axe-armed hobgoblins head eastward up the trail, keeping to cover on either side, and join up with Axel.

 (Note: tree images are an abstraction and do not represent individual trees)

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Audibility/Visibility:

Audibiltiy: Everyone in the party was able follow the above conversation, so you all know that Oloc and the hirelings are now unarmed, and you know that the hobgoblins claim to be bounty hunters after the bandits.

Visibility, at the end of the post:

Oloc and the hirelings can see Swede, but cannot see Anders and Lars (after they dash off into the foliage) or Axel, Varros and Gaven. Neither can they see Duran, but only because he has successfully kept himself hidden in the foliage.

Varros and Gaven can all see Anders and Lars (who now emerge near Axel) and Axel (whom they could already see before), but cannot see Swede or Oloc and the hirelings. Varros and Gaven have a fair idea of approximately where Oloc and the hirelings are, though.

Duran can see everybody.

There is no indication that any of the hobgoblins have spotted Varros, Gaven or Duran. However, Axel seems to be squinting into the trees due east up the trail toward the cave as the other two hobgoblins join him. However, if Varros, Gaven, or Duran were to attack, move normally, or fail in maintaining stealth while moving stealthily, all lines of sight to the PC(s) in question would become reciprocal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Bluff and Sneak)

Oloc laughs out loud at the predicament (of his own making) that he finds himself in. He lowers the scroll slowly and shakes his head.

"Look, I know this sounds crazy, but I was bluffing. I thought you were some of Mackey's men returning to the hideout." He raises his hands slowly. "We're on the same side here. We're working for Belloc and Alanna - they've sent men to back us up. They're on their way now."

Oloc motions to the others to stay calm. "The rest of my party is at the mouth of the cave. How about we talk calmly about how we can work together to get Mackey, yeah?"

The hobgoblin bounty hunter squints at Oloc. "Bluffing, huh? How do we know you're not bluffing now? If you were Mackey's brother, isn't that exactly what you would say?" The humanoid tightens his grip on the crossbow trained on Oloc. "I'm going to count to three. If you haven't slowly and gently laid down your arms, my friends and I will have to carry you back to town. One... two..."

*****

Having heard Oloc's voice, which should never have happened unless things have gone wrong, Varros lets the others know he suspects something is amiss. He suggests they move on Oloc's position quietly with bows at the ready.

Although Duran didn't hear the noise, he follows Varros' lead. Gaven follows the two others and acts as rear guard equipped with shield and spear.

As the three men move toward Oloc and the hirelings, they spot a hobgoblin crouched in the foliage, with a small shield and a hammer at the ready. The hobgoblin seems to be peering toward the sound of the conversation. For the moment he is silent and unmoving, but he looks ready to pounce at the drop of a hat.

From above Karnak flutters onto a branch. He seems to realize that the two fighters and the cleric have spotted the hobgoblin, and he makes no sound.


*****

OOC: Actions?

Notes on visibility and audibility:  

1. The tree symbols on the map are just abstractions, and do not represent individual trees. The whole area is wooded and there's plenty of dense underbrush where there are no trees. Basically everybody has at least partial cover at all times (as before with the bandit sentries).

2. Varros, Duran and Gaven can see the hobgoblin with the hammer, but they cannot see Oloc or the Hobgoblin with the crossbow. They can hear Oloc talking clearly, and have a good sense of where he and the hirelings are. The hobgoblin with the crossbow is talking quietly enough that they cannot hear him, though they know someone they can't see is in the vicinity (since Oloc is clearly talking to someone outside the party).

3. Oloc (and the hirelings) can only see the hobgoblin with the crossbow. While Oloc cannot see Varros, Duran and Gaven (or hear them since they're sneaking up silently), he could reasonably assume that they might be on their way, and he would logically know the direction from which they are approaching.

4. Neither hobgoblin gives any indication of being aware of Varros, Duran and Gaven.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Down the Path, Outside the Cave, Moment of Truth)

DOWN THE PATH

Oloc quickly sizes up the situation. The mage strongly doubts there are more than 2-3 men at the most. "My name is Oloc, I'm Mackey's brother. These men are my traveling companions. I bring word to Mackey from our mother."

With that Oloc takes out his Magic Missile scroll. "But I'm afraid we cannot make out this map."

Under his breath, Oloc tells the hirelings "Stand firm, I am sure they are few."

Oloc will unfurl the scroll slowly. "Can you help?"


OUTSIDE THE CAVE

Duran takes a quick drink of water and bit to eat from his trail rations and then repositions himself, waiting for someone to exit the cave.

Having meditated and prayed to the Light, Gaven begins preparing wolvesbane for when night comes.

Suddenly, Varros seems to pick up the sound of Oloc's voice. It surprises him that the mage isn't being more quiet.


MOMENT OF TRUTH

Down the path, a dead silence hangs in the air for a moment after Oloc finishes speaking.

Then there is a low and quite unfriendly laugh as a tall, muscular hobgoblin with a loaded crossbow steps out from the foliage, pointing his weapon at Oloc. The hobgoblin wears a thick leather cuirasse and heavy vambraces.

"Mackey's brother, eh?" he says. "I figure the authorities will be almost as glad to get their hands on you as they'd be to get your sibling. So you can decide whether your mum is going to have a boy hanged by the guard in Ham's Fork today, or shot dead by a bounty hunter in Blackleaf. It's your choice – I'll get paid the same either way. I'd prefer it though, if you laid your weapons down and came along quietly with us. It's always easier that way."

**************************

OOC: Actions?

I took the liberty of not having Oloc burn the spell right away, having the hobgoblin speak as he made himself visible. If you still want to fire off the magic missile, sonofotho, just say the word.

For everyone else, since Varros has heard Oloc's voice (I assumed that Oloc would not make an effort to be particularly quiet in his speech), you now have an opening to be curious about the noise and logically investigate if you so choose.


Hear noise roll to pick up Oloc's speech (1-2 on d6 = success)

Duran rolls 4 fail
Varros rolls 2  success
Gaven rolls 5 fail

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Decision, Oustide the Cave, Down the Path)

DECISION

After a hurried discussion, the company decides to hole up and wait until the reinforcements arrive. For security's sake it is decided to pull back a bit from the cave to try and meet the reinforcements out of earshot of the cave entrance. It is decided that Oloc will take the hirelings and wait farther back to brief the reinforcements, while the rest of the party keeps an eye on the cave. Varros also feeds Karnak and sends the bird scouting every hour or so. Everyone moves into the agreed upon positions, and the six-hour wait commences.

*****

OUTSIDE THE CAVE

Karnak takes off and begins his first patrol, as Gaven, Varros and Duran settle into their hiding places to keep an eye on the mouth of the cave. The cloaked man finishes pulling the bodies inside the cave, and then disappears within.

*****

DOWN THE PATH

Oloc and the henchmen take up their concealed positions some distance away down the bandits' trail. You see Karnak sweep overhead, then curve away above the trees on his designated flight path. The woods are silent and still and you detect neither man nor beast for nearly an hour. Then a gruff humanoid voice speaks quietly in common from some hidden spot, lost in the foliage: "You are surrounded, and my fellows have a dozen bows trained on you. Don't move or make a sound, and you just might live."

Ollie and Bill go white with fear. Stan, Gweneth and Jack move their hands to their weapons, and look to Oloc. "I wouldn't do that," says the gruff voice softly. "Now, lay down your weapons, and tell me what you are doing here."

*************************

OOC:  Actions?

Remember that only Oloc and the hirelings are aware of the gruff voice. You have no indication if the owner of the voice is aware of Gaven, Duran and Varros further up the trail. I assumed Oloc and the hirelings are facing west, away from the cave. As far as Oloc can tell, the voice is coming from the south (his left). Neither Oloc nor the hirelings have seen or heard any other movement.

Player knowledge vs. character knowledge for the next post: If anyone in the cave-watching group can come up with a truly compelling reason why his character might step away from cave-watch to go talk to Oloc and the hirelings, I'll allow it (but it needs to be really good!).  That said, I will allow OOC hints/suggestions from all of you to sonofotho -- a kind of retroactive PbB patch to compensate for the less elaborate opportunity for detailed advance tactical planning conversations allowed by the PbB format.

Dice transparency: Karnak, on his first hourly patrol, did not spot the owner of the voice (I gave it a 1-4 on d6 chance that Karnak would spot him/them; Karnak failed the roll; then the other guy(s) made a successful surprise roll against Oloc and the hirelings). As the voice speaks it is roughly an hour since Karnak's first patrol.

Time is just after 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (Patience)

Oloc quietly draws out his dagger but waits to see what the fighters do. He doesn't want to force the party's hand. Gaven, too, waits to see if one of the archers opens fire.

Duran, however, holds his fire for now. He observes the man working and waits to see if anyone else comes out of the cave to help him.

Varros follows Duran's lead and waits, keeping an eye out for Karnak.

The hirelings look to Duran and Varros and, seeing their employers refrain from shooting, follow suit.

You hear a bit more of shouting from within the cave, but the voice seems to fade and become indistinct as if the speaker were headed deeper inside. The cloaked bandit continues to use his 10' pole to push away the smoldering branches and clear the cave entrance.

Shortly thereafter, Karnak returns, discreetly landing near Varros, and bearing a response from Alanna: 



With great care, you manage to stay hidden and silent and share Alanna's message with each other with a whispered conversation to discuss your intentions.

The cloaked man, who has stopped pushing away the remnants of the fire and is now collecting his fallen comrades, appears completely unaware of your presence. He bends down and clears away the rock from one of the bodies, grips the cadavre under the armpits and, with a grunt, drags it into the cave. 

He then comes back out to recover the next corpse.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

If you decide to stick around and wait the six hours for reinforcements to arrive, that entire wait will be covered in the next post. Since things seem to have calmed down (we're now quite some time after the "boom" of the falling rock, the fire's out, and the bandits inside the cave appear to think you're gone), your chances of wandering monsters coming by will drop to a much lower level (I'll make one single check per hour rather than the two per 10-minute turn we had before), with the biggest (but not sole) risk being that of returning bandits from the outside.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (A Long Stifling Wait)

Gaven examines the map of the cave and says, "If we enter, I say we fortify the first storage area. That way we cut off their water supply and can make them come to us through the narrow hallway. With that said, falling back is also a good idea. I do not like the idea of going head long into enemy controlled area. "

Varros replies: "Hmmm, cutting off their water supply is a good idea, Gaven. I like the plan. Retreat is also possible if we do this. As much as I hate to attack them in their own base of operations, I fear that if we don't that they will regroup, fortify and be on the alert for the foreseeable future. We have to consider the fact that we have most likely cut their numbers and scared them badly at this point. Personally, I would rather be in our position than theirs in this engagement."

"Cutting their water supply off sounds like a good idea, perhaps then we can draw them out to fight us on our terms," says Duran.

"It is you all that will need to handle the frontline in an engagement. If you do not feel comfortable with the fight, then I say let us fall back," Oloc offers. "We can return at another point or we can pass on what we have done here and leave the rest to Belloc and Alanna to handle as they see fit."

The company considers this for a while, and comes to the conclusion that cutting off the water supply, even if possible, might take some days. The idea is dropped but no one is keen to simply go charging into the cave recklessly.

"I do not think we should go into attack. The numbers are not in our favor," says Gaven. Gaven looks at the opening of the cave and muses to everyone, "Do you think we can close off the entrance to the cave so that it would be difficult to impossible to escape?"

The cleric reasons that this way the bandits could be locked in and the party can go back to town, rest and get reinforcements, maybe buy a hunting dog, if available, to track the bandits if they somehow escape the cave.

"While my bow finger is itching for battle, I must admit that to fall back for now would be the wise choice," says Duran. The fighter indicates he would to fall back but also likes Gaven's suggestions to block the entrance to the cave or set a trap.

Again the party considers the idea from all angles, and it is decided that the entrance tunnel is just too large to blockade. Even though materials are abundant, there is no way to make any blockage permanent.

Varros hesitates at the possibility of retreating: "My instincts tell me to push on, however I must accede to the wishes of the Company." Varros calls to Karnak and feeds him again while thinking.

The idea occurs to him that the party could send a copy of the cave layout and a note to Allana, asking for reinforcements. He calculates it might take upward of six hours before additional men could get there, if they came at all. But presumably, Alanna would respond by sending Karnak back to the group, and the party could at least have an answer from her in about an hour.

Duran perks up at this idea and suggests the party could take up positions blockading the cave themselves, ready to pounce if anything comes out, while waiting the hour for a response from Alanna. Once the party hears back from Allana via Karnak, a decision can be made to either wait for reinforcements or move on.

Oloc and Gaven readily give their consent to this idea.

"It seems like we are agreed on this plan," says Varros. "I also suggest we take up defensive positions. We have to consider that a wandering monster attack may be inevitable."

At this suggestion most of the party take up a sort of hedgehog position, ready to take on enemies in both directions – forward, coming out of the cave, as well as backward, coming up to the cave from behind.

Oloc swiftly puts quill to parchment, copies the map, and sets down all the vital details of the party's situation. The message is quickly attached to Karnak's leg, and Varros sends the raven at full speed back to Allana.

Oloc and Varros in their turn take up hidden, protected positions like everyone else, and the company settles in for the wait.

Nearly an hour passes in total silence, and the last bits of burning wood in the tunnel entrance burn down to a mere smolder. You can see somewhat into the cave once more, but nothing reveals itself. As the time goes by, the heat and stuffiness of the forest grows heavier. You expect Karnak should arrive at any moment.

Suddenly you hear a foul oath from a gruff voice echo out from the cave, followed by the command: "Clear that wood out of there and drag those bodies back in here! Sons of a Succubus! Some cowardly peasant militia from Ham's Fork must have found their way down here and thought they could smoke me out! No doubt Alanna put them up to it, too. By all the shadows, I'll cut her throat for this!"

Clearly more afraid of the shouting voice within the cave than whatever might still be without, a man in a crimson cloak exits and starts pushing the smoldering branches aside with a 10' pole. You can't be certain, but the cloaked man could be the one you briefly glimpsed in the entrance earlier.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Time is 1:00 p.m. 

Here again is the image of the surroundings of the cave entrance. The guy who just came out is standing right around the position marked "1." This might be helpful in describing your actions. Again, the red lines are 70' range bands (corresponding to the range bands of the long bow).





Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (Considering Options)

"Well, they definitely know we're here now," Oloc says, stating the obvious. "I am worried there may be another exit to their lair. They could already been on the way to circle around behind us. I think we should send Karnak up to remain on the lookout."

He looks to the others for guidance. "Do we enter or continue to wait?"

Duran replies: "At this point I think we have no choice but to go in and find them before more of their group return to the cave."

"We could climb up in the trees and snipe anyone coming out of or returning to the cave," Gaven suggests while looking to see if there are enough trees in strategic locations for all members of the company.

Varros expresses doubts: "I feel that the trees will be one of the first places they look as they were using them themselves, as I see it our options are to enter the cave or fall back, however if we fall back they could gain reinforcements or sneak out." Varros pauses and considers a moment, "There is a third option, and that is to hide and continue to wait."

The fire in the entrance continues to burn down as the party considers its options. Bill and Ollie take it upon themselves to toss some more wood on to keep it going. You still see no further activity in the cave, nor does Karnak give any indication that he has spotted anything. Varros gives the raven a simple signal and the black-winged scout resumes his circuit above and through the trees.

OOC:  Feel free to continue to discuss, declare an action, or call for an OOC vote as you see fit.

Meanwhile: one turn passed during the discussion in this post, again with the double wandering monster check, I got no result on either die roll (you'd think in 14 rolls I'd have gotten at least a single "1" but no...).  :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (Where There's Smoke)

"Well it looks like we might have to do this the hard way," Duran says to the nearby Varros. "Unless of course anyone wants to wait a bit longer to see if more come out of the cave." Duran stresses to the others that a decision should be made quickly.

Oloc, fairly certain that the figure at the cave entrance saw the party, suggests the party press on and enter and not give the bandits time to prepare.

"If we take the fight to them, we fight their battle, on their ground," says Varros. "We may lose the advantage we have gained. I vote we wait, however, if the consensus is to move forward we must move quickly as Oloc says."

"I agree with Varros," adds Gaven. "We cannot fight on their terms. I still say we smoke them out – we need to keep them on the defensive."

"I'd rather try your way, Gaven, than going inside for a fight especially with that snake about," concludes Duran.

Gaven asks Bill and Ollie to help him build some makeshift fans out of branches of leaves, and Duran helps to gather wood to build a fire at the front of the cave. The rest of the party helps or keeps watch as needed. At Duran's suggestion, Varros sends Karnak off on a flying patrol to help ensure the party is not surprised.

As the work on the stack of wood and fans proceeds, you get no signal from Karnak, and the project is completed without interruption. It takes about twenty minutes, but you have a fair number of hands contributing to the build-up, and you finally get a massive stack of branches set up in the cave entrance, stretching nearly from side to side, and piled about chest high.

With a bit of help from a flask of oil, you get the pile of green wood lighted, and the flames slowly but surely spread to the entire stack, giving off a thick, white smoke. Under Gaven's direction, the porters use their makeshift fans to direct the billowing smoke into the cave.

After about an hour, the pile of wood is starting to diminish substantially, but with little apparent effect. You neither see nor hear any action or activity inside the cave. Fortunately, no bandits or other enemies have appeared to disturb you from outside the cave either.

*************************

OOC: Actions?

Also: Please subtract one oil flask (I think Varros is the only one who has oil).

I made double checks for monsters again (one for arrivals from outside the cave/one for those inside the cave coming out to engage you) for six full turns after the fire was started, and no monsters showed in those twelve rolls. I mention this just so you know that it was a random outcome, and not a GM decision.

I'd say you could continue adding wood and fanning smoke for up to another hour if you wish, but if no reaction has been provoked at that point, your characters would be fairly certain that for whatever reason, the smoking out plan won't work. 

In short, it's up to the dice, with a 1/6 chance each turn of the smoke provoking a reaction of some sort from within, while at the same time there is a separate 1/6 chance of some encounter arriving from outside the cave. Based on this process, if you fed the fire for another hour, the possible outcomes, in order of relative probability (as best as my mediocre math skills can determine) would be: 

A. The smoking out plan works before any outside encounters arrive (high, equal probability to B).
B. An outside encounter arrives before the smoking out plan has a chance to succeed or fail (high, equal probability to A).
C. The smoking out plan simply doesn't work, and you realize this before any outside encounters arrive (low probability). 
D. An outside encounter arrives at exactly the same time the smoking out plan provokes a reaction from inside the cave (extremely low probability).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thursday 12 July, 1280, Morning (Rolling Stone)

Duran indicates to the group: "I am still of the mind to wait. They would have had to hear that inside the cave. We should at least wait until Karnak returns."

Varros replies; "I agree with Duran. We should wait at least a half hour or so for others to investigate. They may even think the bandits tripped the trap accidentally."

"I can wait as well," says Oloc. The Mage moves back behind his rock hiding place and examines the stone pendant in more detail. He looks especially for an sign that the stone has magical qualities. Unfortunately, he does not see any indication that the stone is magical.

"I also agree," adds Gaven, "but shall we set a trap or even set a fire to try and smoke them out? This may even obscure their sight as they try to escape, making easier bow targets."

Gaven points out a long bow to Stan, who picks it up, and he helps Bill try to find some leather armor that will fit. As the armor consists of assorted items – vests, vambraces, caps – it is fairly easy to find a combination that suits the porter.

Karnak shortly returns, and you can tell from his calm demeanor that he has seen nothing.

However, just after his return you hear a noise at the mouth of the cave – a piece of loose rubble rolling off the top of the waist-high barrier. You catch a glimpse of a man, just for a split second, near the barrier, who turns and quickly dashes back into the darkness.

************************

OOC: Actions?

PC Info Page (Hireling Gear) and Monster and Treasure Page Updated (Long Bow for Stan, and Leather Armor for Bill)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thursday, 12 July 1280, Morning (The Dust Settles)

Looking around to make sure none of the bandits are alive Duran then in a low voice says to Varros and Jack on either side of him:  "Pass the word along to stay put and see if that trap being sprung brings anyone else out of the cave."

Jack signals to the other hirelings, who indicate that they understand, ready their bows, and hold position.

Varros calls to Karnak, feeds him and sends him to scout a half mile radius of the cave in order to prevent any stray or returning bandits from catching the party unaware. The raven seems to comprehend what Varros wants, and he takes off into the dark foliage of the trees.

Seeing no additional movement for about five minutes, Oloc quietly and carefully takes the opportunity to search the fallen bandits. Ollie and Bill move forward to help, while the rest of the party keep them covered.

One bandit seems all but completely buried, with just a hand sticking out from underneath. The others are at least half-exposed or more, not counting the ones killed by the party's arrows.

Oloc and the porters are able to quickly pull from the bodies two longbows, two quivers, six short swords, six sets of leather armor, one silver earring, a small pink-veined stone pendant on a thin metal chain, and maybe about twenty or so copper pieces. Oloc picks up the smaller items, and Ollie and Bill grab the armor and weapons.

It takes roughly five minutes to pick the bodies clean of their valuables, and Oloc and the porters dash back to cover. As this happens, Gaven says to the rest: "Maybe we should pour oil onto the rocks to trap other bandits."

Though you expect it to take maybe ten more minutes for Karnak to complete his scouting circuit, you hear no alarm raised by the raven so far, and there appears for the moment to still be no indication of movement in the mouth of the cave, which you can see quite clearly again now that the dust has settled completely. The cave mouth is about twenty feet wide, maybe ten to fifteen feet high and, beyond the low wall of rubble, it is filled with a silent darkness.

************************

OOC:  Actions?

I cut things here to let you decide on Gaven's suggestion before moving on.

I also made two checks for wandering monsters (rather than the usual single check): one for anything/anyone outside the cave, including "returning" bandits, and one for any bandits charging out of the cave to investigate the noise of the trap. Both came up negative this turn.

It should take one more turn for Karnak to complete his scouting sweep.

Loot picked up:

2 long bows
2 quivers
6 short swords
6 leather armor sets
1 silver earring (50 gp)
1 small pink-veined stone pendant (40 gp)
20 cp

(Monster and Treasure page updated)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Morning (The Chicken Little Maneuver)

Seeing the larger than expected group, Oloc hopes that Gaven decides to set off the trap. But the Mage doesn't dare speak out or reveal his position.

Duran readies his bow hoping that the trap is sprung and ready to deal with any survivors.

Varros crouches low leaning against the side of the rock, he pulls up the hood of his fine green cloak and readies his bow, aiming toward the cave mouth.

Gaven prays to the Light for success of the plan. Wanting to make sure that none of the bandits can escape back inside the cave, he waits until the last bandits are on the wall before he springs the trap, to ensure that all are either caught in the rubble or at least stranded outside of the cave.

Gaven pulls the trigger. With a thunderous crash that echoes back into the cave and through the woods, the rocks fall from the ceiling onto the bandits, bouncing off the low wall and flying away at wild angles through the cloud of dust raised by the collapse. At first your view of the bandits is obscured by the nebulous mass of dirt and rock powder, but it quickly begins to settle and you see that the rock fall and ricochets killed several of the bandits outright, and wounded another.

For a brief instant, the bandits are somewhat stunned, unsure whether the triggering of the trap was an accident, or if they've been ambushed. In the brigands' moment of hesitation, the bow-armed members of the Free Company seize the initiative and let loose on the bandits. Varros, Duran, Stan and Gweneth all find their mark, with only Jack missing, sending an arrow flying wildly to strike the stone of the cave high above the bandits' heads.

The four arrows that hit their target are enough, however, dropping the remaining bandits to the ground with uncomprehending looks on their faces.

As the dust clears further, and you survey the scene more closely, you notice that Flox was also struck by the falling rock, and that he too lies lifeless amongst the other corpses.

************************

OOC: Actions?

************************

Combat Detail:

Surprise Round:

Falling Rock Trap (I ran this based on Gaven pulling the rope once he was sure that none would be able to get back inside. I assigned the percentages I gave earlier for hits based on proximity to the low wall, with the last bandit across being guaranteed a hit, and with Flox, as first over and farthest from the center of the drop zone, having the lowest chance of being hit).

Bandit 7: 100% Chance of  Hit, auto-hit; d6 = 1 (Bandit Wounded)
Bandit 6: 80% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 42 (hit); d6 = 6  (Bandit Killed)
Bandit 5: 80% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 39 (hit); d6 = 4  (Bandit Killed)
Bandit 4: 60% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 29 (hit); d6 = 4  (Bandit Killed)
Bandit 3: 60% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 74 (miss)
Bandit 2: 40% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 91 (miss)
Bandit 1: 40% Chance of  Hit, d100 = 94 (miss)
Flox: 20% Chance of Hit, d100 = 02 (hit); d6 = 6 (Flox Killed)


********************************************************************

Round 1:

Initiative (Party = 3, Bandits = 1)

Bandits 1, 2 , 3, 7 remain

Varros
Shot 1: d20 = 13 + 1 (Medium) = 14 (hits bandit 1); d6 = 5 (Bandit Killed)

Duran
Shot 1: d20 = 19 +1 (Medium) = 20 (hits bandit 2); d6 = 6 (Bandit Killed)

Stan
Shot 1: d20 = 13 + 1 (Medium) = 14 (hits bandit 3); d6 = 6 (Bandit Killed)

Gweneth
Shot 1: d20 = 19 + 2 (Short) = 21 (hits bandit 7); d6 = 5 (Bandit Killed)

Jack
Shot 1: d20 = 1 (miss)

Man, the dice loved you guys this morning! Feeling the luck, I couldn't resist looking at the math. Your average d20 roll was 13, and your average d6 damage roll (falling rocks and arrows combined) was nearly 4.8 (though I guess that wasn't so lucky for Flox...)