Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday 4 July 1280, Early Morning (Abbot Cuthbert, Setting out for the Grove)

An Absent Companion

As you eat your breakfast, you notice Gaven is not present. When you ask Sal about him, he tells you Gaven went to the temple alone for morning prayers before the rest of you arose.


Gaven's Visit to the Church
(OOC: the "you" in this section refers only to Gaven, of course)

As the duties of the Servants of the Light require them to get up only at sunrise, you are uncertain whether you will find anyone at the Temple at such an early hour. However, when you arrive you find the front door to the Temple unlocked, though the hall is empty of worshippers. The Temple's white walls, its cleanliness and freshness, make you feel at home. You kneel not long in silent prayer before you hear quiet footsteps enter the chapel behind you.

Closing your meditation, you stand and face an elderly, white-haired cleric who greets you and presents himself as the Abbot Cuthbert.

"How good it is to meet one of the militant order, young Gaven! As you surely know, we here in Fairbrook are mainly healers repairing the damage of chaos. However, we hold in the highest regard those of your order who pursue and defeat chaos at its sources."

When you speak of Elsie and Bill, the cleric shakes his head sadly. "These are grave times," he says. "Though I have not been there, I have heard of this grove. Often have I warned the young people of Fairbrook about the dangers of courting far from the eyes of parents."

"I have no advice to give you in such a quest, but I can offer you this." Abbot Cuthbert reaches into his robe and withdraws a small vial filled with a pale blue liquid. "It is not magical," he quickly adds, anticipating your query. "However, this draught calms broken nerves and eases emotional suffering. If your two young people are the victims of any grave fear – and for their sake I hope not – this may be of use. May the Light shine on your endeavor and help you to find those two young souls."


Breakfast at the Red Tankard

"Shall we head towards this 'Lover's Grove' then?" Oloc asks. "I think an early start would be a good idea. After the information we received last night it would appear that more is afoot than I first expected."

"I am in agreement with Oloc, something is remiss," says Varros. "In addition to generating goodwill amongst these townsfolk, 500 coin would be a substantial addition to our funds. Onward."

Having finished rubbing lineament into his bow flexible Duran adds: "I agree it sounds like our course should be to 'Lover's Grove,' as soon as we are all assembled we should leave. It seems it might be better to investigate this place in the day light."

The group is nearly finished breakfast, when Gaven returns. The sky is starting to brighten, and it promises to be a clear warm day. Gaven sits at the table to quickly take his breakfast. "I agree, we should head for 'Lover's Grove' to investigate."


Setting Out

You pack your gear and make for the north gate, reaching it as the sun rises to the level of the rooftops. Passing the watchtower, you advance northward up the Woodfield Road. You march a half mile along the road, and you easily spot the grove on a low, gently sloped hill to your right, just as the young man in the Red Tankard had described.

From the road you can see that the grove consists of an apple orchard with trees originally planted in straight lines along the slopes. At the top of the hill, through a gap in the trees, you can see the remains of a farmhouse, whose roof is mostly collapsed. Many of the trees still bear apples, but it is clear that the orchard hasn't been tended in at least a generation. The time is roughly seven o'clock in the morning, and the sun shines brightly on the east side of the hill.


OOC: Actions?

If there's any last-minute gear you'd like to buy, just let me know. We'll just say you swing by the general store on your way to the gate.

Also, from the PCs' point of view, only Gaven knows about the vial, unless he chooses to tell the group (which he can easily do on the march to the Grove if he wishes).  

Since I started you guys so late in the first in-game day, I won't charge you the cost of living for that day. Cost of living calculations will start with the current date of 4 July, the first full in-game day (if you end up coming back to town to spend the night).

Lastly, I've added sunrise and sunset times, by month, to the West Kingdom Info Page (in the section on Calendar and Moon Cycles).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday 3 July 1280, Night (Speaking to a young couple, Mrs. Miggins, and Bob Barley)

Big Sadie steps into the back to give Sal some last-minute instructions.

Gaven approaches the young couple and says, "If I may interrupt, do you know Elsie Miggins and Bill Barley?"

The couple, who appear to be around eighteen years old, look at each other before the young man answers.

"I don't know any Elsie Miggins, but I know Bill Barley. We're not really friends, but I know he's a real ladies' man." The young man smiles devilishly, then his face goes dark. "Of course, I sure hope he didn't take this Elsie to the Lovers' Grove. He takes girls up there a lot. But there's been some strange happenings up there. Unusual noises, odd shadows, creepy things like that. A lot of our friends are too scared to go up there any more. Us too, honestly. We've kept our courting in town lately."

The young lady nods, confirming her boyfriend's statement.

"If Bill was brave enough, or dumb enough, to take a girl up to the grove, who knows what might have happened? You might look up there if you're trying to find them. It's about a half mile north of town, on a small hill east of the road. You can't miss it. There's an old farmhouse near the top where a lot of young folks go to watch the sunset."

As Gaven and the young man close their conversation, Sadie comes out with a cloak wrapped around her shoulders. "Let's go then!"


Sadie leads you to Mrs. Miggins' home not too far away. Once inside, Mrs. Miggins recapitulates much of what you've already heard, adding:

"I know my Elsie. She's not always been a perfect girl. There've been nights when she's come back later than she ought. But she's never been out more than one night at a time before. That's how I know something's wrong! I'm offering a reward of 500 gold coins to any group who brings her back to me. I've got my nephew out posting the placards as we speak."

Other than that, you can't get anything more out of Mrs. Miggins. She knows nothing about Lovers' Grove, when you mention it, but she agrees it's as likely a place as any. When you bring up Bill Barley, she becomes positively apoplectic, going into a rant about how she told Elsie time and again how bad he'd be for her. Realizing that's all you'll learn from her, you gracefully say goodbye and depart.

After seeing Sadie back to the inn, you make your way to the stable master's.


The stable master, Bob Barley, is disheveled, and his long, unkempt hair drapes crazily over his shoulders. As he opens the door, you can smell the reek of drink.

"My boy, Bill? Why yes, just last night he says to me, 'Dad,' he says, 'can I borrow the horse? I want to take Elsie up to the grove.' All the girls are sweet on my Bill, you see."

When you ask him if he's sure it was last night, and not three nights ago, he stops to think. "Why, you may be right..." Bob rummages around the empty bottles on his table, seeming to count them. "Hmm... All these were full when Bill left with the horse. It was a brand new case." He nods at the now empty crate on the floor. "It has been three days. Something must be wrong. Not like my Bill to stay out this long. I sure hope he's alright."

Like Mrs. Miggins, he doesn't seem to know anything else you've not already learned, despite the additional questions you ask him. As you leave, he seems genuinely unsettled, pacing back and forth.


The night is getting on as you head back to the Red Tankard. On your way, you see a few of the reward notices Mrs. Miggins' nephew posted. Sadie waits for you to return before locking up for the night. The next morning you wake before dawn and Sal serves you hot coffee and a hearty breakfast. When you finish, the sky is starting to brighten, and it promises to be a clear warm day.

OOC: Actions?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tuesday 3 July 1280, Just After Nightfall (Speaking to Sadie and Dagwood)

You find Sal's mutton stew delicious, and Sadie's crimson ale is exquisite. As you consider your options, everyone seems to agree that finding the missing girl is the course to pursue.

When Sadie returns to see how you're enjoying your dinner, Duran asks her: "Might you happen to know where we could find the kin of this missing girl?"

"Why of course!" says Sadie. "She's the daughter of Mrs. Miggins, the pie shop owner. I spoke with Mrs. Miggins yesterday in the market. Very distraught, she was! It seems her daughter Elsie went out for a ride three days ago with that young lothario Bill Barley, and never came back. Mrs. Miggins is at her wits end! Ooh, she'd like to see that Bill Barley hanged, I daresay!"

Sadie looks around at the relative dearth of customers. "You know, things are slow in here right now. If you want to speak with Mrs. Miggins this evening, I could introduce you to her myself. You think it over while I quickly check my other clients. Then I'll be back and you can let me know if you'd like to speak to her tonight."

Gaven meanwhile, approaches the man at the bar. As Sadie passes near the bar on her rounds, Gaven signals Sadie to fill the man's drink, then says to the man: "If I may ask, good sir, what news in the gazette?"

"Mostly those awful bandits down by Ham's Fork. Another merchant cart has been robbed, and its owner killed. That's the third one in a month. I tell you, the situation down south really has the Mayor concerned. A fair amount of our food supplies come up that way, and no small quantity of goods leave Fairbrook by the same route. Not at all good for business."

He suddenly looks up from the Fairbrook Gazette as Sadie refills his cup. "Ah, thank you!" he says, "I'm Dagwood, secretary to Mayor Adsul."

He pauses as Sadie heads off again, then adds quietly. "You know, Mrs. Miggins came to the Mayor's office two days ago, screaming and wailing like a banshee. I'm not unsympathetic but, with the deaths on the Ham's Fork Road, we just don't have the manpower. And frankly," he lowers his voice still further to make sure he's not overheard by Sadie, "I'm not entirely certain the girl didn't just run away. It's not the first time she's spent the whole night out with young Bill Barley."

He takes a sip from his drink. "If you do look into Elsie Miggins' disappearance, I suggest you also talk with Bob Barley, the stable owner, to see if his son Bill ever came back from his assignation with the young lady."

Dagwood drains the rest of his ale and puts on his hat to leave. "I thank you again for the drink. If the Miggins affair doesn't work out for you, come by the Mayor's office. I'm sure Adsul would welcome your assistance with the bandit problem."

He pauses and turns just before he heads out the door. "Oh, and if you go out to Blackwell for any reason, do be careful. I hear it's not a place for the faint-hearted."

OOC: Actions?
See Mrs. Miggins this evening (or in the morning)?
See Bob Barley (this evening or in the morning)?
Swing by the Temple (in the morning perhaps)?

I realize this is my second post in just a day, but remember you don't need to feel rushed to respond – our "official" posting rhythm is once every two days, and you are entitled to take that time. For myself, during the work week I'll likely post closer to the once-every-two-days cadence, while during the weekend I'll tend to answer your posts a bit more quickly.

Also: I forgot to shut off word verification for comments earlier. They should be off now. Let me know if they are not.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tuesday 3 July 1280, Evening (The Game Begins)

There are strangely few customers sitting in the common room of the Red Tankard inn, as late afternoon makes way to evening. A couple whispers quietly to themselves in a corner, while a group of four men laugh raucously at a table to the side. One man sits alone, near the bar, reading what appears to be some sort of local gazette.

Seated at your table are:

Duran Halmar, who won the Ashwood village archery contest for the first time at age fourteen and has won every year since;

Oloc Argrim, the ward of a witch, whose guardian was killed by a hazing gone wrong at the hands of some narrow-minded locals, and who only very luckily escaped their clutches himself;

Varros Blackwater, who, after an affair with the daughter of his former mentor, was attacked, on orders of his teacher, by three fellow students, managing to kill one and barely escaping the region with his life;

Gaven Bonecrusher, who was "called by the Light" one stormy day near North Stagwood to defend his friends against a group of skeletons, earning the surname "Bonecrusher" which he now bears.

Also at your table, though far less invested in your conversation, are two hired hands – Stan, a mercenary soldier, and Ollie, a torchbearer and porter – both content to let you four do the thinking and planning.

The four of you have shown, through talent, or adversity, or both, that there is something about you that makes you more than an average villager or townsman. Leaving home behind, you struck out into the larger world, coming to Fairbrook, in search of glory and fortune. In short order, you made the acquaintance of those now seated with you at this ring-stained table on the inn's first floor.

As the summer sun sets outside, several lamps illuminate the room with a warm glow, casting shadows into the corners, and you discuss plans for your newly adopted career path as adventurers.

Lodged for some days now at the Red Tankard, you have already heard rumors of potentially heroic and lucrative opportunities that might make a fine start to your new profession:

1. There was quite the ruckus two days ago, as a woman burst into the Mayor's office, screaming hysterically that her teenage daughter had disappeared the evening before, and that none of the King's men had been able to do anything about it. It's said there might be a reward for the daughter's safe return.

2. Bandits have been harassing folk on the Ham's Fork Road, and the King's men patrolling there have been unsuccessful in quelling their activity. The bandits no doubt have a tidy amount of coin built up, just there for the taking by anyone who might have the courage and skill to put an end to their marauding.

3. There is a ruin, called Blackwell, a short way north of town on the Woodfield Road. No one knows its origin. Legend says it has deep dungeons filled with danger and treasure. Enough adventurers have gone in and come back with sufficient loot to substantiate the rumors of wealth to be found. But tales of their struggles and scars seem to keep too many others from following in their footsteps.

As you discuss your intentions, a cooling evening breeze wafts in from the open windows of the inn's first floor, bringing with it the occasional sound of footsteps hurrying home for the evening meal, or the wheels of a cart on the cobblestones, punctuated by a horse's hooves.

Big Sadie, the tall, plump proprietress of the Red Tankard, brings dinner to your table. "You lads seem awfully serious tonight." She wipes her hands on her apron and shakes her head back at the kitchen. "My husband Sal reckons you'll soon be leaving on some grand adventure. If so, you'd better eat hearty while you can – nothing gives a man courage like a full stomach!"

OOC: Actions?

Hirelings are Up; Let's Start this Weekend Then...

OK gang. I put your two hirelings up over on the PC page. Even though they're NPCs, they're specifically attached to the party, so it seemed logical to have all the party members listed in one place.

Also since everyone says they're ready to go, let's start. I'll post the game opening shortly. Here we go...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pre-Game Out-Of-Character Post

Hi guys. Now that everyone's character sheet is posted and linked on the PC information page, take a look at the other players' sheets (if you haven't already) to get a feel for the other PCs in the party.

Also, I've added a section on hirelings and a section on henchmen over on the Rules and Houserules page (at the bottom). Think about whether or not you'd like to go ahead and hire any "unskilled laborers" to act as torchbearers/porters, or mercenaries for added muscle (though remember the larger your group gets, the noisier it will be tramping along).

If you do want any hirelings, we'll say you've done the search ahead of time and you can simply pay their weekly wage up front (effective as of the first actual day of play, in-game). Doing it pre-game, I'll exempt your PCs from paying the search costs, and your hirelings will be right there at the start so you can just jump right in adventuring with them.

You can discuss that together here in the comments section, along with any other pre-game matters you see fit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The West Kingdom

The West Kingdom, ruled by Berenger II, is a vast land, difficult to control. Its isolated towns are bastions of relative peace and order. The King's soldiers patrol the roads as best they can. But the woods, hills, ruins and caves remain untamed. From these regions, the minions of chaos come forth to menace the folk of Berenger's realm. With resources stretched, the King's men are fortunate to simply hold the settlements and byways. Only small companies of roving adventurers press the attack into the dark places where the enemies of the Kingdom abide. Fairbrook is where the story begins for one such band.

For more information on the West Kingdom, rules and house rules, posting procedures, and PC information, please click on the links in the column to the right.