Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Three Hours After Midnight (What Karnak Saw)

Varros believes the wounds on the goblins appear to be from a pitchfork and possibly another farm tool. He also believes that Karnak has spotted the goblins and that they are probably engaged with Belloc's forces, though no sounds of fighting can be heard. Varros shares his theories with the rest of the party.

Gaven agrees with Varros's assessment. "Let us follow Karnak and see the end of the goblin host."

"I too agree we should follow Karnak," says Duran. "If it were not so dark I would say that hill would be a nice vantage point."

You take off in pursuit of Karnak. He leads you on over the plains at a fast run, for maybe two minutes, when suddenly, from up ahead, you hear a hundred savage voices burst forth: "Urrah!" This is followed by the crystal clear sound of a finely crafted horn singing out into the night. Then the clashing of steel, shouts, snarls and blood-curdling screams. As you close, you see a large, vague mass of shadows, about a hundred yards onward, from which emanate these sounds.

In the midst of this gigantic tumult, you hear one commanding voice rise above the others in some unknown, but unpleasant sounding tongue: "Ithrak...ghonal...karaz!" The phrase rings out three times, and what appears to be a bonfire explodes into existence illuminating the mass of shadows and making clearer the shapes of men and goblins locked in mortal combat.

Then suddenly you realize the fire that just sprung up is not spreading, but rather moving, and it appears to have burning arms, legs and a head. You see it grab a man, raise him and hold him high in the air, until the man bursts into flame like a torch. Then the creature casts the dead man aside and moves to pick up another victim.

Slowing, and creeping closer to get your bearings, you see a battlefield formed in front of you that looks like this: 

 Red = Human Force, Grey = Goblin Force, Orange = Creature, Blue = Party

In the far distance, Belloc sits on his horse beside his archers, shouting and pointing with his sword to give orders. The creature of flame, standing perhaps seven feet high or so, wades into the center of the battle. A tall humanoid figure with a crooked staff walks silhouetted close behind it. The goblins appear to be organized into small companies of twenty, the men in companies of ten. Each goblin company appears to have one or two larger members, perhaps hobgoblins. You are about 200' away from the nearest goblins (the bowmen). The ground is quite open and flat, with no cover. But as far as you can tell, you have not been detected by anyone. All the enemy's attention seems to be on the battle in front of them.

OOC: Actions?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Three Hours After Midnight (Two Dead Goblins)

"Cover me Duran," whispers Varros. Varros moves quietly forward to search the bodies for any valuables and try to determine if the goblins were injured and why they were behind the rest.

Duran motions to Varros that he has his back. As Varros moves forward Duran follows quietly with his bow at the ready. Gaven and the rest of the party continue to guard the rear and flanks.

Examining the two goblin bodies, Varros quickly sees that these two were both already wounded. One has five thin, circular puncture wounds in his abdomen, in a straight line about ten inches long from the first to the last. The other has a severe gash across his leg, definitely made by some sort of blade, but perhaps duller than a weapons-grade blade – the wound is somehow less "clean" than a wound made by a sharp blade. Undoubtedly, given the severity of their wounds, these two were unable to keep up with their companions.

Varros finds a short sword on each of the bodies, along with a skin of some foul-smelling liquor, and a few weevil-infested biscuits. He also finds a few coins – between the two goblins, Varros picks up 27 sp.

Still nothing else moves in the dark scrub. It seems fairly clear that these two were alone, and that the host continued on its way – the path they trampled continues leading forward to the west.

Varros calls to Karnak and feed him, and ask him to scout ahead. The raven comes down, takes a bit of food appreciatively from Varros, and flutters off again just a bit further down the path from the party. He lands on a branch, waiting for the party to follow.

Another half-hour of marching brings you to the far edge of the stunted woods without incident, though the tracks have bent slightly back to toward the southwest, curving back over the flat open ground toward where the road – and Belloc's men – should be.

Now that you are out of the vegetation, the moon provides you with plenty of visibility once more. The trampled ground is quite easy to follow. As you continue along the path, you notice off to your left the shadowy form of a hill that stands out above the plain. Though it is difficult to tell at this distance, its top appears to bear a jagged crown, either of natural rock, or perhaps the remnants of some man-made structure.

Suddenly Karnak, who has been circling just ahead of you, appears agitated, as if he perceives something further on in your line of march that you cannot yet see. He seems to call down to you with a note of urgency in his tone, and he flies off hurriedly straight ahead, to the southwest.

OOC: Actions?  In addition to the coins, I assumed that you guys would keep the swords and have Ollie carry them. Let me know if I should alter that (or if you want to carry the bad liquor and weevil-infested biscuits).

Time Update: It is now about 3 a.m.

Regarding fatigue, penalties (basic -1 to initiative, -1 to hit, that kind of stuff) will kick in once you've been active for 24 full hours -- so about 5 a.m. Of course, if you run into any goblins, they are likely to have about the same level of fatigue as you, considering their extended activity.

Also, just FYI, I have now added two new reference tools to the blog.

First, a new page entitled "Quests, Rumors, and Information." This is a running list of all such items you guys come across in your adventures. I thought it might be a nice reference page as you encounter more and more NPCs, who give you more info and potential things to do. You can see what was said, by whom, when and where.

Second, I added tags to every post, and an index. Each post is tagged according to the particular quest your characters are/were on at the time (so far only two: "Lovers' Grove" or "Goblin Horde"), according to whether a quest, rumor(s) or information were given in the post, any major locations or NPCs, etc. Hopefully this will make the location of past details easier should any of us need access.

I'll try to keep these up to date.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Well After Midnight (Investigating the Noise)

Varros motions to Duran, puts his finger to his lips and then motions for him to move forward. Varros does the same and readies his bow covering the area of the sounds.

Duran nods to Varros and slowly stalks forward trying to utilize any cover. With his bow at the ready Duran will meet any threat with deadly force.

Gaven continues to guard the rear and keep an eye on the flanks, while Varros and Duran scout ahead.

Oloc begins to call forth the words for his spell, waiting at the ready.

Stan advances slightly forward and to the right of Oloc, in a position to guard the unarmored mage in case of trouble.

As Varros and Duran sneak forward, they encounter at first only an obstinate, suspicious silence. Creeping around the bend in the trail, however, they spot two goblins, evidently trying to hide themselves in the shadows of the underbrush. Unfortunately (for the goblins), a cloud shifts clear of the moon, momentarily illuminating the position of the goblin pair as bright as day. 

Varros fires immediately on the goblins. In the blink of an eye, he looses two arrows. Each strikes home perfectly – one in the throat, the other in the chest. Before they can  react, the goblins gasp, twitch and then lie still.

As you hold your breath listening, you don't hear any other movement or activity nearby. If there are additional enemies in the area, there is no sign of them.


OOC: Actions?

Time Update: The time is now roughly 1:20 a.m.

Combat Details

Party cannot be surprised (heard goblins)
Party d6 = 1 (goblins surprised)

Surprise Round (Varros only: "Varros will fire immediately on Goblins" + "Duran will only fire if him or one of his group is spotted").

d20 = 20! +2 (short range) = 22; d6 = 5 (Goblin #1 killed)
d20 = 14 +2 (short range) = 16; d6 = 6  (Goblin#2 killed)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Well After Midnight (A Dark Path)

Varros looks to the Free Company, "I believe Duran and I should scout ahead and the rest follow, if we move slowly and use our cloaks we should be able to move unobtrusively ahead and any rearguard we encounter will be at the mercy of our bows. Agreed?"

"That plans sounds fine to me Varros," says Duran. "I believe it would take to long to go around this obstacle."

As far as can be seen, there would be plenty of room to execute Varros' plan. The goblins were clearly none too gentle going in, so the path visible to you is quite wide -- about twenty feet from side to side, quite enough for six men to stand abreast, let alone two.

"I do not like the looks of this forest. We will be at a disadvantage, especially if we need torches?" Gaven sighs as he looks for the edge of the forest, "But I see no other way to complete our mission. I will guard the rear, since I am likely to be noisiest."

Fortunately, at least for the moment, it appears that moonlight will give you all the illumination you need, about thirty-foot radius, so you estimate torches won't be necessary unless the scrubby woods get denser than they currently appear.

Oloc frowns as the others consider entering the dark, tangled mass. "If you think it best to enter, I will defer to your judgement. My guess is the gobs have some home or camp therein. We will be at a disadvantage."

As you conclude your discussion, you hear a rush of wings and look up to see Karnak return. The raven drops down and comes gently to rest on Varros' shoulder. You notice immediately that he has a note tied to his leg.

"Perhaps it would be best to call Karnak to stay with us?" asks Gaven. "I'm not sure he would be able to see us once we are in the woods."

Untying the scrap of parchment you see the following message. "Will adjust position accordingly. Keep advised. – Belloc."


Having weighed the dangers and delays, you begin to move forward onto the dark path according to Varros' plan, with Varros and Duran scouting cautiously ahead, making use of cover as they go, the rest following, and Gaven bringing up the rear. Karnak flutters softly from tree to tree as you advance, silently keeping pace with the group.

In this manner, the going is slower than it was out in the open but still certainly faster than it would have been to go around the woods. After about a half hour, Karnak, seems to stiffen, and Varros and Duran hear a sound from up ahead. Listening carefully, they hear what sounds like a quiet moan, perhaps of pain. Seeing Varros and Duran halt to listen, the rest of the party stops as well, and soon you all can hear it. The sound comes from around a slight bend in the trampled path, maybe thirty or forty feet ahead. The moan dies off for a few seconds, but then there is a slightly louder wimper, followed by a quiet but harsh "Shhh!"


OOC: Actions?

Note: Map not to scale; clumps of trees are abstractions, not actual representations of individual trees.

Also: One thing that occurs to me is that I hope I'm not pushing you guys too fast to decide on actions. I do tend to post once everyone has made a comment, but if you ever think something needs further discussion before party actions actually go into effect, please just go ahead and close your comment with something like "OOC: I think we should discuss this more before the next post" and I'll hold off posting to let you guys discuss. While I want to keep the game moving, I don't want that to ever be at the expense of your group decision-making process. I think we can balance both.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Just Past Midnight (Following the Goblins Northwest)

Varros looks to the sky and calls to Karnak loudly, holding out his arm to provide a perch, with the other hand he readies a piece of meat. Turning to Oloc he says "Perhaps you can make a tiny note to attach to Karnak stating that the host is moving to the Northwest?"

"That sounds like a plan Varros," says Duran. "After you send Karnak we should continue to track the Goblins."

Oloc agrees with the plan and takes out a small piece of parchment. He scribbles a short note with the key information for Belloc. Thinking about it, Varros also asks Oloc to include the news that the party will continue to trail the goblins from a safe distance and provide updates.

Once finished Oloc folds up the paper and hands it to Varros. "Let's hope he gets it."

While Oloc writes and folds the message, Karnak descends and alights on Varros' arm. It appears he is growing quite accustomed to Varros, and seems perfectly at ease at the fighter's wrist.

Varros gives the command to Karnak to return to Belloc and asks him to return with a plan. Varros also asks Karnak to respond if he understands. The raven cocks his head, and surprises you somewhat, as he gives what looks like a nod and a wink before taking off in a flutter of black feathers.

As Karnak flies away, Gaven says: "Let us trail the main host to the northwest."

You check your gear before departing, and Duran readies his bow as the party heads off following the trail. Though you all are weary, you feel you have a few hours' good marching left in you before fatigue begins to actually take a toll.


With the buring farm behind, the long shadows it casts gradually blend into the darkness of the fields. Soon the moonlight is once more your source of illumination, and it provides plenty of light for following the ground trampled by a host of goblins. The night is also quieted once again, as very quickly even the crackling of the flames can no longer be heard. There is only the noise of the night insects.

About forty-five minutes' march to the northwest, you come upon a low, wide looming shadow in front of you – one of the wide spaces of scrub spotting these fields that Belloc mentioned in your first coversation. The goblin host's path leads straight into this broad space of densely packed gnarled trees, maybe twice as tall as a man, intermixed with harsh-looking, chin-high bushes with wicked four-inch thorns, and tall, weedy grasses. With the shadows cast by the moonlight, it is difficult to see anything inside the miles-wide patch, other than the well-trampled goblin trail that plunges clearly straight into the middle of the rough vegetation, disappearing into darkness after about thirty feet or so.

Otherwise you see nothing, and hear less. Even the insects that whispered during your march have now fallen silent.


OOC:  Actions?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Near Midnight (Smoldering Outbuilding)

Gaven notices the revulsion on Oloc's face and says, "What did you feel when you felt the ribbon. I felt a ... gentle caress... Do you think the ribbon is magical?"

Gaven stares at the moon a moment and then says, "From Eric's description of the murders and Maggie's staring at the moon, it would seem her being a werewolf is a possibility. I think we should be careful if we are out in these woods next week."

Gaven says to Oloc, "Since it seems the ribbon makes you sick, but not me, and Maggie left it at my feet, I will hold on to the ribbon for now. Perhaps Abbot Cuthbert will have some insight once we get back to Fairbrook."

Gaven places the ribbon in his backpack.

Oloc fights off the strange feeling of revulsion. " Yes, it is best that you keep the ribbon. I felt she knew me, but now I don't know what to think." he shakes off the last effects and the turns his attention to the scene in front of him.

"It is doubtful there are survivors here, but we should search the ruins."

For the most part it is impossible to get near the still burning structures. However, one or two small out-buildings to the east – evidently where the first fires were set, have burned down enough that you can come in closer. They don't reveal much, however, though you do manage to spot one corpse in the easternmost shed. Much of the body is burned away, and all gear has been stripped off or burned away, but enough of the body remains for you to recognize it as a goblin.

But even with a slightly closer of examination of the buildings you can approach, it is still impossible to say what happened to the farm's inhabitants. Karnak continues to circle above you, illuminated by the flames in the dark sky. But he gives you no indication of seeing anything out of the ordinary.

The tracks, upon closer examination, are quite clearly a single path, moving from the southeast – where you first spotted smoke earlier (and still see flames) – probably Timm's farm – here to the Bruce farm. There is quite a bit of chaotic "running about" in the tracks that you can see amidst the flaming buildings before a coherent path starts again, indicating a more "orderly" march to the northwest. The tracks show further a "mass" trampling of the ground. They were definitely not made by just a scout or two, but probably made by a host the size of the one Dirtbag mentioned.

After examining the farm and the tracks, Gaven says to the others, "Light, it seems Belloc was wrong about the goblins march and now he is completely out of position. Should we risk splitting the group to inform Belloc or perhaps go back to the farmers and have them inform Belloc?"

"It seems there is nothing we can do here until these flames die down" says Duran "We should follow the path NW until we can locate the main Goblin body."


OOC:  Re-reading earlier posts, I realized I didn't make it clear that you do still have Karnak as a resource, should you need or want him to deliver a message (it was sort of half-suggested but not overtly stated -- my oversight).


So far current proposals seem to be pursuing the goblin host or informing Belloc now that they (the goblins) are headed northwest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Approaching Midnight (Asking Eric about Maggie and Marching North)

Once Maggie is gone and the wind has died, Varros says: "Odd, I don't feel that she means harm to any of us." Varros looks to Gaven, "Some things in this world reside beyond even beyond the reach of light or chaos."

Gaven is both surprised and confused by Maggie's comments and her 'gift'. He picks up the ribbon and examines it closely. It is a simple ribbon made of black silk, with no markings. Gaven notes, however, that it has a certain unattributable warmth to it, an almost pleasant feeling in his hand. Gaven then shows it to Oloc for examination.

"What do you think she meant by her speech and by leaving the ribbon?"

Oloc stares off in to the distance as he considers Maggie's words. He barely manages to fight back the tears at hearing her words. "How did she know," he asks in a whisper.

He silently examines the ribbon but can offer no clue as to its meaning or purpose. "I would offer to hold on to it," he says to Gaven. "If you don't mind."

As he says this, Oloc has a sudden feeling of revulsion, mounting almost to nausea, toward the ribbon in his hand.

Once he and Oloc are back with the others, Gaven discusses Maggie and the ribbon with Eric - "What do you know of her? Why do you fear her and feel she deals with evil magic?"

Eric wipes the cold sweat from his brow. "Long ago, before I was even born, there was a tiny hamlet north of the ruins of Blackwell Keep. A merchant went there one day and found everyone dead – horribly mangled and torn, some half-eaten, as if slaughtered by some horde of savage beasts. When the locals examined the remains, everyone was accounted for except for one young woman – an elf-woman named Maggie."

"At first they thought she was a victim, abducted, carried off. So they sent out search parties. One party did not come back. Eventually the search party was found, just as mangled and torn as the folk of the hamlet. But there was no sign of Maggie."

"Everyone assumed she was dead, and that the beasts were still out there. From time to time, dead bodies showed up, in the same state as the others. Eventually people noticed that the appearance of the bodies coincided with the full moon."

"After some years, the killings became less frequent. Folks found the courage to travel at night once again. And that's when some came back saying they had seen Maggie. Some had lived near the destroyed hamlet and knew her. Others had been members of the search parties and recognized her by her description. All of them said she filled them with an uncontrollable fear. As if death itself hung about her like a cloak."

The locals – many of our fathers and uncles – decided that Maggie must be a witch, or possessed by a demon. They tried to exorcise the hamlet where it all occurred, burning it to the ground. But I doubt if that accomplished anything. Those who traveled at night still saw her on occasion, staring at the moon. That's why we call her the "moon-witch."

"There hasn't been a body discovered in years now, and Maggie is seen so infrequently that we sometimes almost forget she's out there. But when we do come across her, she fills us with terror, as you can see."

"Is there any meaning to the ribbon?" Gaven asks. He nods for Oloc to hand the ribbon to Eric. "Perhaps the gesture is elfish?"

"I couldn't say," states Eric. "It doesn't bring to mind any gesture or symbolism of my people. It could have just blown off in the wind and landed at your feet. Or perhaps she wanted you to have it for some reason. Who can say with a mad witch?" He hands the ribbon back.*

With the feeling of uneasiness leaving Duran speaks to the others. "We should get our friends here into a good defensive position and move along quickly to scout for the goblins."

The group of farmers has clearly settled down a bit now, and though they still peer uneasily into the night, they seem none the worse for wear. Duran has little trouble getting them up and ready to march.


A half-hour's uneventful march brings the group roughly to the stopping point suggested by Belloc's plan. After another quarter-hour's march you find a low hillock with the ruined foundations of a house at it's top. This seems like the most defensible possition you are likely to find in the open ground that dominates the area. From the hilltop, the fires to the north and northeast appear much brighter.


Leaving the farmers to hold their fortified hilltop position, another hour's march north brings you to what must be the Bruce farm.

The farm is, as you suspected, burning, its buildings completely engulfed in flame, along with a field of grain to the east of the buildings. The heat, light and smoke are all extremely intense. Though it is impossible to get close enough to the buildings to examine them, you notice a definite trampling of the earth all around. In the area of the farm proper, the trampling is thoroughly chaotic. But farther away from the burning buildings, there is a definite pattern to the trampling that runs from the light in the southeast, which you guess to be Timm's farm, off northwestward into the dark, silhouetted distance.

Looking around, you see no living thing. However, neither do you see corpses. If there are any, they must be nearer the buildings, or even in them. But the heat and smoke prevent you from getting close enough to check. So it is quite impossible to tell what happened to the inhabitants of the farm.


OOC: Actions?

*Please let me know whether Gaven or Oloc takes the ribbon back from Eric.

Time update: it is roughly 11:30 pm

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Night (Maggie)

Gaven's ears prick up at the mention of 'evil magic', but he pauses, reflects, and sighs to himself, "An investigation must wait until the current threat is over, but..."

Gaven slowly approaches Maggie and removes his helm so that he has his shield in one hand and helm in the other.

"Dear moon maiden, surely you know of the goblins' destruction of the forest. These farmers of the land wish to drive them away. If these are your lands as well, surely you do too. Do you have any insight into their plans?"

Oloc, also, is very curious about Maggie, perhaps a kindred spirit in the magical arts. Thoughts immediately go to his former mentor, and the persecution she endured. He greets the elf warmly, introduces himself, and listens as she responds to Gaven's query.

The farmers look on in stunned horror, cringing and huddling together as the cleric and mage approach the speak to the "Moon-Witch." None of the locals manages to utter a word, but Eric looks pleadingly at Duran and Varros as if to say please don't let them do this!

Duran stays with the farmers and lets Gaven and Oloc speak with Maggie. He keeps his bow at the ready for any sign of trouble. Varros follows Duran's lead.

"We plan to thwart their efforts," continues Gaven, "and any aid to limit death and destruction would be greatly appreciated." Gaven bows in deference.

Maggie continues to look above your heads at the moon.

A moment passes.

A soft gust of wind blows from the west.

The grass rustles softly around your feet.

Another moment passes.

The night insects are still.

Duran's bow creaks softly.

Yet a moment more.

Another soft gust of wind.

On the ground before you, you see the shadow of a cloud passing across the moon.

As the moon's light briefly dims, Maggie wakes as from an open-eyed dream. She shifts her gaze, finally noticing you. "The land?" she says. "I am not of the land." The elf-woman's face is fair, slender, and emotionless. "No goblin will trouble me. They know me too well." Her regard drifts over the farmers. "As do others."

The farmers tremble, some avert their eyes, a few fall to the ground. Stan and Ollie take a step backward. Ollie drops to his knees and clings to Stan's leg.

Maggie's eyes return to Gaven and Oloc. An unanticipated softness enters her voice. "But you are bold. Few dare look upon me, and fewer dare approach."

Staring hard at Oloc, she seems to read his thoughts. "Young Argrim, do not feel ashamed. The one who raised you also holds you blameless. She would not have you feel such guilt."

Then turning to Gaven her voice softens further, straddling the razor's edge between affection and menace. "Fair-spoken cleric, should you survive this crisis, you shall face still greater tests in darkness, the like of which you cannot yet imagine. You and I will no doubt meet again."

Maggie sighs, and before anyone can respond, another gust of wind, this time quite fierce, blows in your faces from the west, forcing you to bow your heads and brace yourselves to remain standing. Several of the farmers cry out, as does Ollie.

A second later, the air is calm once more. When you raise your heads, Maggie is gone. A black ribbon, such as a woman might use to tie back her hair, lies at Gaven's feet.


OOC: Actions?

Don't forget that I'll be delayed in my next post, as I mentioned in my email.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Just after Nightfall (Starting North)

Gaven says to the group alone: "I would like to see this through, but I understand if the rest of you do not. I say we put it to a vote. I vote we take on the scouting mission."

"Agreed, Gaven," replies Varros. "I also will second Belloc's plan."

"I will go along with Belloc's plan as well," says Oloc. "But I do not wish to venture too far ahead. The goblin host would make quick work of us, I fear. And we are getting closer to the ruins, slowly but surely," he adds with a wink.

Duran then addresses Belloc:  "The plan is fine with us Captain. We should move out with the farmers and make sure they find a good defensive position. From there we can quickly find the Goblin raiding party."

Before moving out, Varros discusses the matter of the halflings, the bandits and the keep with Belloc. The captain listens attentively, and says "This is grave news as well. When this goblin business is done I shall have to increase the number of patrols on the road. As for the keep, well...that is another matter. Even my men won't go in there. But that is something for us to worry about tomorrow." And with that Belloc climbs on his horse again and prepares his men for their next march.

Soon you have checked your gear and gotten the farmers ready to move as well. You anticipate a march of about two hours to reach the midway point where Belloc suggested you post the farmers, and about three to four hours before your scouting party reaches the burning farms.

Before leaving the inn, Gaven turns one last time to Filbert: "Rest well and heal up and once this is done, we can hunt some bandits."

The wounded halfling nods in appreciation.

As you are ready to move out, Harlon, who has been serving food to the farmers throughout this discussion, hands you each a small bundle of bread and dried fruits and cheese, so that you might take your evening meal on the march. "May the Light go with you," he says.

It is 8 pm as you set out. But the waxing three-quarter moon which has risen provides you with plenty of light to see.

About an hour north of the inn, you come to a low rise overlooking, from the west, your line of march. On the crest of the rise is a shadowy figure – so immobile that at first you think it might be a statue. But as you march nearer, you see that the figure is clearly alive, humanoid, elvish. She stands on the rise staring over your heads. As best you can tell, her attention is focused on the moon which is now somewhat higher than when you had left.

About twenty to thirty yards off now, the female elf seems to pay no attention to you and your band of fifteen farmers, intent instead on the moon, or whatever she is looking at, up in the eastern sky.

The farmers seem to recognize her, and an uncomfortable hush falls on them. "Maggie, the Moon-Witch," says Eric. "Do not look at her. She is in league with evil magic. But if we do not disturb her, perhaps she will leave us well enough alone."

Ahead on the horizon, you still see the orange glow of fires set by the goblins.


OOC: Actions?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Nightfall (Council of War)

Varros turns to Karnak strokes his feathers and rewards him with a bit of meat, "Well done Karnak, your speed and cunning may have saved many this day." With that, he turns and goes to meet Belloc with the others. "Captain Belloc, greetings, you made good time. Truth be told, between your speed and that of our new friend Karnak, this task has proven less challenging than I originally thought, in fact, I don't feel we have fairly earned our coin yet." Varros looks the Captain in the eye and says solemnly, "I for one will see this through to the end."

"Let our Free Company join with Belloc to wipe out the goblin host," Gaven agrees with Varros

The captain bows at Varros and Gaven's words, and compliments you all for having found the goblins, and made the inn secure.

Duran comes down from the roof with the arrival of Captain Belloc. "Captain it looks like the goblin host have moved NW of Timm's farm and are now burning another farm. It appears they are now due north of this inn. I am not familiar with the road ahead but if it curves back north you might be able to intercept the Goblins if they continue on their current course."

The Captain replies "It is good that we know which direction they're heading. The road bends northwest after a few miles. But this may be to our advantage. They appear to be headed west, so taking the road would allow us to plant ourselves in front of them, blocking their path."

Duran continues: "I would suggest sending out some scouts to keep contact with the Goblin party using Karnak to help guide you and the main body of soldiers to them."

"A sensible idea," says Belloc. Then turning to Varros he adds: "Masters Varros and Gaven, if the rest of your company feel as you do, perhaps you would be willing to take on that task."

Oloc, too, nods at Duran's suggestion. Turning to Belloc, he speaks. "I think it wise to press on before there is further loss of property and, gods forbid, life. But I am no military man so I may be too rash in this assessment. Maybe it is better to wait until dawn."

"Yes," says the Captain. "I would prefer to wait until dawn myself. However, as you say, property and, more importantly, lives are at stake. I agree that our best option is to press on now.

Gaven says: "Belloc, there are many able-bodied men here. They wish to protect their lands, let them join with us."

The Captain thinks for a moment, considering the farmers' lack of armor and training. "I think we could use them for a very important task," he says.

OOC: Belloc's proposal. Red = Belloc's march, Black = Goblins' anticipated line of advance, Green = Farmer's march, Blue = Scouting party.

He looks down at the map Harlon drew for you. Here is the apparent path of the goblins' advance. Based on your information, my best line of march should be straight up the road taking up a blocking position just east of it. A group of scouts – you, if you're willing –  march due north keeping an eye the goblins from their rear, as Duran suggested. The farmers march half the distance northward with the scouts, stopping in the middle to set up a blocking position there."

"This march, by the farmers, will, I think, serve several purposes – first it protects my flank along the first portion of my approach march, in case the goblins change their path; second, a blocking position there will serve to delay the goblins in any move south, should they drastically change their path of march toward the Northstar; third, it gives the scouting party a good fallback position should they (you) run into any goblin rearguard detachments that's too big to handle."

"You, of course," he concludes, "know the ground and the movements of the goblins better than I. What are your thoughts? Does this plan seem sound? I should very much like you to remain as my scouting party until this affair is finished, though if some of you would prefer to join in the main body of my troops until this is over, that would be equally acceptable. I've no doubt you can hold your own in a fight. Either way, I would be willing to add a small bonus to our agreed upon fee. What say you?




Just for the moment, I've not added the statements regarding the halflings and the bandits:

Varros: When the opportunity presents itself Varros will discuss the matter of the halflings, the bandits and the keep with Belloc.

Gaven: To Filbert, "Rest well and heal up and once this is done, we can hunt some bandits."

But I will include them in the next post. It's just that since I stopped here in mid-conversation, I couldn't find a logical way to work them in right now.

Also, you are welcome to split up in this case if you wish (for example, if some prefer to act as scouts while others prefer to march with Belloc). Narratively/mechanically, this would not be too hard to handle, since it would all part of a single overall "scheme." Not that you have to do so, just wanted you to know that in this instance it's an option easily handled from my perspective as GM.  Also bear in mind that technically Belloc considers your initial scouting deal complete, and that the party (as a whole) is free to go it's own way and do something else if you all choose.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thursday 5 July 1280, Near Sunset (A Few Feet of Mealie Bags)

"Filbert bravely tried to resist them," says Hazel, "but they were too strong. One of them struck Filbert with the pommel of a sword. That's how he got that gash. They pushed me to the ground and told me I'd hand over our gems if I knew what was good for me." Hazel looks down at the floor. "I knew we couldn't overcome those men, so I gave up our gems."

Gaven responds to Filbert and Hazel, "I am sorry. We should have questioned those men further. I will do all in my power to get your gems back once we have dealt with the goblins."

"Thank you," says Filbert. "I heard them say something about making their way back to the keep, just before I lost consciousness."

"Yes," says Hazel, "then they rode away north up the road toward Woodfield."

"If you go after them," adds Filbert weakly, "I should like to accompany you. I would dearly love to give them some payback."

As this conversation ends a farmer stands on one of Harlon's tables and bangs the handle of his pitchfork on it. "I say we head out now and put an end to this menace once and for all! We've seen this before, and we know how it goes if we take no action! Are we going to let goblins – or ogres or anyone else – come onto our lands and plunder and burn as they please? I say no, by the Light! No!"

A stout cheer goes up from a fair portion of the farmers in the room. Others seem less than roused by the sturdy man's speech.

Before heading up to the roof, Varros addresses the men, explaining that Belloc is on his way and adding that the company was tasked with scouting out the goblins. Varros explains that the farmers will be killed if they choose to meet the goblins. He tells what he knows of their numbers and that there are also hobgoblins. He stresses that attacking them without the aid of Belloc will only result in their deaths and hardship for their families.

Duran nods in agreement. He adds "It would be better for you to await Captain Belloc here where as a group we have a better chance to defend ourselves. Varros and I will be on the roof keeping a look out. Oloc and Gaven do you think you can organize these men into a defensive posture around the inn?" With that Duran turns and heads up the ladder to the roof.

Oloc nods at Duran's suggestion and tries to calm the locals down. Many of the group, including the ringleader on the table, sober up a bit as Oloc reinforces what the others have said about the arrival of Belloc and his men.

Some of the others, who had cheered on the ring leader, still shout: "No, no! Let's get them now! Filthy goblins! Let's take the fight to them!

Gaven then heads to the bar, stands atop it, brandishes his silvered club and his holy symbol and yells, "Good people of the farmlands, lend your ears!"

Once he has their attention, he continues in a loud, commanding voice, "I am Gaven Bonecrusher, cleric of the Light. I have sworn a solemn oath to protect our lands from the scourge of chaos and I intend to do so here. These goblins are well organized and will surely wipe us out to the man without Belloc's reinforcements. The Light does want us to protect our lands, but not at an unnecessary loss of life. We have a good, defensible position at this fine inn. So let us fortify it and show the goblins that the men of Light will not be easily defeated!"

There is a dead silence after Gaven's speech, and then a soft murmur, and it seems the the men who stood quietly in the earlier tumult are now taking the lead and quietly convincing their fellow farmers to listen to the group's words.

Finally a consensus is reached, and another farmer steps forth, a thin, silver-haired elf, carrying an axe in his hand and a large knife in his belt, flanked by a halfling and a dwarf.

"I am Eric Fallow," he says, "And I now speak for the farmers gathered here. We will stay with you and defend the inn. Some of us have families, so I will send two or three of the swifter, younger men to run to those farms and send the women and children south toward the Fairbrook bridge. They will undoubtedly encounter Captain Belloc, assuming he is on his way, so they can let him know the details of what we're doing here."

Eric shakes your hands, and everyone sets to work. The runners depart on their mission. Duran and Varros make for the roof to keep lookout. Gaven and Oloc ask Harlon about the best defensible positions in the area and start to lead the men in fortifying the area.

With very few men, Eric and Harlon suggest a small perimeter around the inn itself. Harlon points out his sturdy tables could be used for a barricade, and a quick inspection of the rest of the inn reveals a substantial store of grain sacks, ale barrels, and food crates, which Gaven and Oloc realize could be used in conjunction with the tables to form a small, sturdy perimeter. With the help of the farmers, these items are quickly put into place.

Gaven notes that some of the farmers are armed with bows, and he suggests they make ready keeping an eye out along the new perimeter. He and Oloc have the remaining men – armed with a variety of weapons including pitchforks, flails, staves, axes, hammers and long knives – form lines once fortifications are complete.

The industrious farmers are able to complete all this activity under the group's direction in only about an hour. Shortly after 6 pm, everything seems in place, with not much else to do but wait for Belloc and the goblins.

As the sun hovers just above the horizon to the west, a few minutes before 7 pm, Varros and Duran believe they see a large body of shadows moving up the Fairbrook road from the south. There are a few moments of tension as the shadows draw nearer, but then a familiar "caw" rings out and Karnak lands on the rooftop next to Varros.

The sun disappears below the horizon and the sky goes black, except for the fading, flickering orange light on the skyline northeast of the inn that must be Timm's farm. A few minutes later, however, Varros and Duran note a second orange light spring up on the horizon, due north of the inn. It flares far more brilliantly than the fading light emanating from Timm's farm.

Below, the guard detachment from Fairbrook arrives at the barricade, with Belloc in the lead, on horseback. The barricade is opened and Belloc rides in and jumps down from his horse.

"We met your families on the road south," he says to Eric. "They should be quite safe from the goblins now." Then the captain addresses the party. "So what have you seen of the goblins and what course of action do you recommend?"


OOC: Actions?

Small XP bonus to the first person to name the film reference in the post heading.