Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thursday, 12 July 1280, Morning (The Trail of the Red Serpent)

(Wednesday Night)

During interrogation Gaven asks one final question of the bandit: "What can you tell us of the pool?"

Zander answers: "It's our water supply." His dry throat seems to suddenly get tight as he thinks about it. "It's very cool and fresh."

Seeing that her interrogation tactics are no longer needed, Alanna brings a water skin to the prisoner and holds it for him, allowing him to drink for the first time since his capture.

Following the interrogation, Gaven says: "I'm not sure if smoking them out is an option, the cavern is large and we aren't sure if there is another exit. We may want to handle this like we did the goblins (charm and lure). I will meditate on this tonight and allow the Light to guide me. Good night, fellows."


(Thursday Morning)

The night passes uneventfully in Alanna's well-guarded camp. At sunrise you share in her troops' morning meal, though Oloc prepares his charm spell before joining the rest of you for breakfast.

As predicted Karnak arrives before you are ready to leave. As you are all getting your gear together, Alanna approaches you. "I hope you've slept and eaten well. No messages from Belloc other than the go-ahead for me and my men to take out the fences while you go after Mackey. My men and I will soon be departing and splitting up to strike all the fences simultaneously tonight. And you now know the way to the bandits' lair, of course. Do you intend to still take the prisoner with you? Or shall I take him back to town?

Gaven speaks up: "I do not think the bandit is worth healing or bringing along. He is too famished to be much use and will just slow us down. Should we send Karnak to inform Filbert that we have intel on the Grey Foxes and that he should wait for us? Do we want to proceed with smoking out the bandits? If so, we likely need more oil."

Duran says: "I agree with Gaven. I don't think this bandit is worth healing. While I do like the idea of smoking the bandits out I fear this may not work and only alert them to our presence. I think we can try to charm them like Gaven suggested but it might also come down to brute strength and the accuracy of our bows."

Chiming in, Varros says:  "Sending Karnak is fine but we will definitely need him to scout out the bandits in the trees. I suggest finishing up the day and sending him after the raid on the bandits. That way we can also send word of our success or failure. I also agree with Gaven that the best approach may be the same one that we used on the goblins. Perhaps luring them into oil and then setting it ablaze may work better than trying to smoke them out. Having to go in after them will somewhat negate the advantage our bows give us."


With a plan decided upon, the party soon set out. The day is warm, sunny, and cheerful as you head east from Alanna's camp toward the forest. You recognize certain landmarks the bandit had mentioned – a rock formation here, a dead tree there.

You encounter no one and nothing of significance on your way – just the odd redwing and the occasional rabbit. As you approach the forest, however, a shadow spills out into the idyllic setting through which you have marched. True to its name, the leaves themselves are so dark in color that they look black from virtually any distance. Only when you are right under them can you see that they are, in fact, just a very dark green.

A very short distance into the forest, you find a tree with the "R.S." runes caved into its trunk, just as the bandit said you would. Nearby, you find a carefully camouflaged trail. The camouflage is so skillful that you doubt you could ever have found it without Zander's instructions.

From this point on, you know you are in bandit territory, and Varros has Karnak scout ahead. The trail – which barely merits the name – winds its way through dense undergrowth, and the going is slow and hot. The July warmth you enjoyed so much on the march is transformed into a furnace beneath the stifling trees of Blackleaf.

About an hour down the trail, Karnak suddenly stops on a branch and quietly caws, twitching his head as if to indicate that he's spotted something up ahead. The location corresponds roughly with that of the bandit hideout provided by Zander. Quickly and quietly slipping into cover, you all peer ahead into the trees.

You hear nothing, and at first you see nothing either, other than a rough, rocky, tree-covered slope. As your eyes focus more intensely, you notice a patch of blackness in the slope ahead, half-obscured by foliage, that might well be a cave entrance.

Scanning the dark trees all around, you spy, a moment later, a booted foot hanging down from a branch about fifteen feet up. Moving your eyes upward, you can just manage to make out a bowman attached to the dangling foot, seated on the branch. He does not seem to have noticed you.


OOC: Actions?

All olive areas on the map above are covered in dense underbrush (slowing movement to half speed), except along the narrow trail. The yellow dot is the archer attached to the dangling boot. The party is the blue square. You are about 100' (+/-) from the archer. I made the scale marker a 70' increment, to match the range bands of your bows.

BTW: You can see the bandit with difficulty. If you choose to shoot at him, he will benefit from cover, but of course so will you if he returns your shooting (i.e., at the moment you and he have identical spotting/cover problems/benefits).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday-Thursday 11-12 July 1280 (Intelligence)

Feeling rather pleased with himself at the success of his spell, Oloc decides to try and get a bit more information out of the prisoner: "What do you know of the Grey Foxes? How many are they and who is their leader? Do they make their base in the ruins of Blackwell Keep? What do you or any of the other Red Serpents know of the ruins, its layout and denizens?" Gaven and Varros, and Duran also ask questions.

When you ask his name, the bandit tells you he is called Zander.

When you pose your questions about the Grey Foxes and Blackwell, you find out the following:

  • Zander thinks the Grey Foxes are a bunch of "stinking, mangy dogs."
  • Whatever their numbers, Mackey always says there aren't enough Grey Foxes to challenge the Red Serpent.
  • The Grey Fox leader is "a worthless no-good" named Messer.
  • He doesn't know anything about Grey Fox territory.
  • Mackey always tells them there's nothing worth stealing in Grey Fox territory, and that's why the Red Serpent doesn't bother moving north.

When you inquire about the layout of the Red Serpents' cave you get enough of a description that you are able to draw this:

Zander also tells you:

  • Most of the tunnels are about 20 feet wide give or take.
  • The caverns within are easily 60-70 feet across in most places.
  • He doesn't know anything about any secret doors or hiding places.
  • The main entrance is the only way in he knows of.

On the subject of werewolves, he says:

  • The bandits are not werewolves.
  • He hasn't seen any werewolves.
  • He has heard wolves howling in the distance at night.

At the end of the interrogation, Gaven pushs wolfsbane into the bandit's face to make sure he isn't a werewolf. The bandit exhibits no reaction to the plant whatsoever.

Gaven then asks if anyone has a plan, suggesting perhaps the party use oil to try to smoke the bandits out.

Duran and Varros agree with Gaven about smoking the bandits out, or burning them out. Varros suggests stealthily taking out the guards on watch, possibly charming one or perhaps even "borrowing" this one from Allana and then burning out the rest and hopefully cutting them down with arrows. Maybe this bandit could be our next Dirtbag. The fighter teases the cleric by adding: "Try not to smash his skull in until we're done with him, Gaven."

Alanna interjects stating: "You're welcome to take him with you, but his leg is pretty badly broken. We set it as best we could, but he'll probably slow you down to a crawl."

Varros states that he will keep a watchful eye out for Karnak as well. He thinks that Karnak might be useful in finding the bandit guards in the trees. When Varros thinks back to the battle and the blood on Karnak he starts to wonder if he could possibly catch a guard unaware and cause him to fall from height.

Allanna believes that's a wise use for Karnak, adding that the raven is likely to return around sunrise with whatever messages Belloc might have for her. "If you'd like," she says, "I can teach you the command to have him attack. Just point to your target, and make this sound."

The lieutenant demonstrates the call, which seems to be in the raven's own "language," along with calls for "come," "return home," and "scout," mostly to be sure Varros gets the differences in inflection right as she has him repeat them. "All the ravens understand many of these in the common tongue," she says, "but using his language will help bond a raven to you."

Duran and Gaven propose that the party sleep and head out in the morning.

Before turning in, Varros begins to spend a bit of time trying to get to know the new hirelings in order to learn their strengths and weaknesses, with the intent of continuing to do so during travel and down time. The hirelings are pleased to get a bit of attention from their employers.

Varros in his brief conversation with them before going to bed, finds out that Jack is an ex-member of Stag Hollow guard, with a little fighting experience (though he never actually killed anyone). Gweneth, the daughter of a woodcutter in North Stagwood, pitched in as part of a makeshift militia in Woodfield to help fend off a small goblin raid (where she did score a kill). And Bill, a dwarf who lacks skill with stone, came to Fairbrook looking for the best-paying work he could find as a manual laborer.


The night passes uneventfully, in Alanna's well-guarded camp. At sunrise you share in her troops' morning meal, and as predicted Karnak arrives before you are ready to leave. As you are getting your gear together, Alanna approaches you. "I hope you've slept and eaten well. No messages from Belloc other than the go-ahead for me and my men to take out the fences while you go after Mackey. My men and I will soon be departing and splitting up to strike all the fences simultaneously tonight. And you now know the way to the bandits' lair, of course. Do you intend to still take the prisoner with you? Or shall I take him back to town?"


OOC:  Actions?

Basically, let me know if any of the info you've gained in this post changes your plan to head out now (and of course feel free to discuss as needed), or if you're ready to go ahead and make the short march to the bandit lair.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday 11 July 1280, Night (A Charming Conversation)

Varros pulls Alanna aside and fills her in on what the party knows about the bandits, specifically the runes and the robbery of the halflings.

"Interesting she says. We've seen runes on a number of trees on the edge of Blackleaf – but only the ones we sent to Fairbrook that translate as R.S. We assume they're some sort of territorial marking belonging to the bandits." Alanna nods when she hears of the halflings. "An all too common occurrence these days. But if you've found the markings G.F. north of Fairbrook, I'd say you've got a separate group of bandits working up there."

As Varros pulls Alanna to the side, Duran makes a show of pulling his water skin from his belt and takes a nice long drink from it in front of the prisoner. The bandit glares at Duran with a burning resentment. But the captive says nothing.

Gaven nudges Oloc and waves his fingers like he's casting a spell.

Oloc offers to Alanna his services to try and charm the prisoner.

Alanna gladly accepts Oloc's offer. "If it works, I can actually get some sleep tonight," she says.

Oloc steps up to the bandit, makes the gestures and speaks the words of his charm spell. The bandit's eyes glaze and his jaw goes slack.

Oloc then relays questions from Alanna. The ensuing interrogation is more profitable than the Lieutenant could have hoped. Her questions yield the following information:

  • The troop of robbers is called The Band of the Red Serpent. 
  • They have a lair in a cave a little more than a mile inside Blackleaf.
  • He gives a clear set of directions on where to find the cave.
  • There is only one entrance to the cave.
  • The criminels keep at least two sentries on guard at the front at all times, hidden in the trees.
  • There is a falling rock trap set at the entrance, but it's easy to find and avoid the trip wire (he tells you exactly how).
  • There are about 35 bandits in the group; at any given time about half are off robbing or meeting with fences in Ham's Fork, Brewer's Mill, or Fairbrook.
  • He provides the names and addresses of about a half-dozen fences the Red Serpent uses.
  • The leader's name is Mackey and he coordinates operations from the cave most of the time.

Alanna also asks about the G.F. rune, that Varros mentioned to her. At this the bandit declares that the Band of the Grey Fox are no-talent hacks, undeserving of the name bandit, and that the Grey Fox band is wise to keep clear of Red Serpent territory.

Getting more information in a few moments than she had obtained in a whole day of questioning, Alanna is both impressed with Oloc, and pleased with the results of his spell. "Well," she says. "I assume you fellows will want to go after the bounty on Mackey. I propose that you take your company to the lair and bring back his head, while my men and I split up and take down the fences. That should neutralize this band pretty well. You have my permission to ask the prisoner any other questions you may have, and you are welcome to spend the night here in camp, if you don't want to make the walk back to town."


OOC: Actions?

Go ahead and give me a list of any additional specific questions you may have for the prisoner or for Alanna, along with your next course of action.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 1280 (Wolfsbane and Interrogation)

At the chapel, Gaven asks Brother Abraham if werewolves can transform* everyday of the week of the full moon or only on the actual night.

"It depends on the werewolf, answers Abraham. Those who have recently become werewolves have little control over when they transform. They'll normally switch forms in the few days surrounding the height of the full moon, say, the day or two before through the day or two after so about three to five days. They may also switch at other times if they're under great stress. The older ones," he continues, "are another matter altogether. Those that have been werewolves for a long time have a great deal of control over their changing. For the most part they can alter themselves at will, or not, at any time at all, and often ignore the call of the moon entirely."

Gaven thanks him for the wolvesbane and takes enough for each member of the party. He donates 10 gp. He then returns to the tavern and relays the info except about Dagmar, etc. He gives each person wolvesbane.


Back at the tavern Duran says:  "I think if we hurry we can make Lt. Alanna's camp tonight. We can gather what information she has and then go from there in the morning."

Gaven agrees, and with no objections from the rest of the party, the group sets out down the eastern path to Lieutenant Alanna's camp.

After a half-hour march, you arrive on the edge of a camp. A sentry challenges you, but it turns out to be the soldier to whom Duran and Varros spoke earlier. He quickly lets you pass and points out the large tent that belongs to Alanna. You make your way past several campfires and smaller tents. By the number of tents you estimate there must be around fifteen guards or so in the camp. Evidently word of your arrival in Ham's Fork has preceded you, since some of the soldiers sitting by the fires nod in greeting as you pass, and the guard at Alanna's tent simply waves for you to enter straightaway.

The inside of the white canvas command tent is illuminated by several lanterns. Alanna, a tall strong-looking woman in chainmail, leans on the edge of a surprisingly sturdy camp table. She is staring intently at the bandit prisoner sitting on a stool in front of her with his hands tied behind his back.

The prisoner clearly has a broken leg, which, as far as you can tell, has been skillfully and carefully set. He has a few scrapes and bruises as you would expect on a person who'd been in a fight earlier in the day. Apart from those, which seem perfectly normal to you, there are no other visible marks on him. However, he looks absolutely exhausted, and he doesn't even notice you enter the room. As you look at him, his head droops to his chest and he starts to snore.

"Ah, ah, ah," says Alanna, gently tapping his face to wake him. "We agreed, no sleep until you tell me what I want to know, remember?"

The bandit mumbles a few choice words as Alanna turns away from him to face you.

"Well met," she says. "My guard told me you'd be showing up. Considering what I've heard about you, I'm glad you've come. We caught this one," she inclines her head toward the prisoner "this morning with a group that tried to take a potter's money and goods just outside of town. I've questioned him all day, on and off, trying to learn the specific location of the bandits' lair. We know they're coming out of Blackleaf, but that's a big and dangerous place. I don't want to send my men in there on a wild goose chase."

She looks at the prisoner once more:  "This gentleman here is the best lead we've managed to acquire so far. But a day's worth of hunger and thirst still haven't gotten him to talk. I'm hoping a sleepless night might break his silence."


OOC: Actions?

Time's about 10:00 p.m. but Alanna looks like she intends to pull an all-nighter questioning the prisoner. *Regarding "tetra form" I wasn't sure if this was a term I just didn't know, or if it was a typo for "transform" (it looked like a real word, but I couldn't find it online so I assumed the latter). Let me know if I was wrong to do so.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wednesday 11 July 1280, Evening (Information on Bandits and Werewolves)

Duran and Varros decide to gather the others before heading to meet the lieutenant. But they have the soldier let Alanna know the group is in town and plans to come see her either tonight or in the morning.

The soldier promises to convey the message and quickly disappears down the path to the east.

Duran and Varros return to the inn, to find Oloc listening to the end of the elf's story. When the opportunity presents itself Oloc approaches him: "A friend of ours had a similar experience, but further to the north. We are investigating if it is the same group or not. Can you tell me where I might find the guards who took this bandit captive?"

The elf replies: "I'm sorry for your friend, and I hope no harm came to him. I couldn't say much about the group that attacked me, other than the fact they were some pretty rough characters. But I wouldn't know one bandit group from another. From what I hear, though, the guards took the wounded bandit to some camp their lieutenant has east of town. I haven't seen many guards in town except the ones that brought me here, and one or two others who seem to bustle in from the camp and then hurry back out again. That's probably where you'll find them."


In the chapel, Gaven asks Brother Abraham about the traps he sets and how to not set them off. Abraham shows Gaven into a nearby room and points to a large iron-jawed spring trap. "I have Raglin, our smith here in town, build these for me. I keep them far enough off the paths that travelers aren't likely to step in them, but still close enough that the wolves will smell the pig I use for bait. If you go into the woods, just stay right on the trails and you should have no problems."

Gaven also asks about how to best deal with werewolves.

"Your best bet is with a silvered or magical weapon," says Abraham. "Raglin makes silver weapons for me, too, and keeps a stock of them. If you need any, he'll probably have some. Wolfsbane would be a good idea as well. I grow it myself out back and, if you need some, I can give you as much as you like.* Hang it around your neck, and it should give you some measure of protection."

Finally, Gaven asks Brother Abraham what he knows of Maggie, the moon ribbon, Dagmar, and Blackwell. Brother Abraham knows quite a bit about them all, but has nothing to add that Gaven hasn't heard before. On the subject of the moon ribbon, Brother Abraham reacts much like Abbot Cuthbert, going almost into a rage, and urging Gaven to destroy the ribbon.


OOC: Actions?  

*Prof P:  Gaven can take as much wolfsbane as he'd like from Brother Abraham (perhaps a handful-sized bunch for each member of the party including the hired help?), if he wants to.

Everyone: Time is about 9:00 p.m. you could certainly go talk to Lieutenant Alanna at her camp outside town, or wait until morning, as you wish.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday 11 July 1280, Evening (Conversations in Ham's Fork)

Gaven announces: "I am going to the chapel for prayer and to meet Brother Abraham.* I will try to get more up-to-date information on the bandits and warn about the giant." Gaven nods towards the soldier, "perhaps one of you should speak with him and find out the location of the lieutenant."

Varros and Duran take Gaven's suggestion and move off to speak with the soldier, while Oloc heads off to secure a table at The Proud Pig and await the arrival of his companions.


Gaven enters the chapel to meditate and pay tribute to the Light, then inquires after Brother Abraham. When Gaven states his business, Brother Abraham thanks him for the warning about the giant. "I wouldn't be surprised if he came from Blackleaf, chased out by the werewolves. Despite my efforts, their numbers seem to grow. I just laid traps before the full moon, but the beasts may be getting wise to them. A change in my tactics may be in order." Then he adds: "If you find you must go into the woods at night during the full moon, you'll want to be extra careful."

When the topic of the bandits comes up, Abraham says he knows little of them beyond most folks' common knowledge, though he noticed over at The Proud Pig there was some excitement earlier in the day. He didn't get a chance to inquire, but some of Alanna's men were involved so it likely had something to do with the bandit problem.


Varros and Duran quickly catch up with the hastily walking guard and greet him. "I've got business with my lieutenant, so if it could wait until later..."

The two fighters quickly introduce themselves, passing along the information on the giant, and seeking information pertinent to the party's quest.

The guard suddenly stops and says, "Ahhh, I've heard rumors of the Free Company and what you did for Belloc in the goblin raid. I can't say we're unhappy to have you here – we can use all the help we can get. I have to run now to the lieutenant, but you're welcome to join me. If you'd rather gather the rest of your party first, you can just follow this footpath," he nods toward the village street that ends a short distance away and turns into a narrow dirt trail leading eastward, "about a half mile to our camp. Lieutenant Alanna's set up a field headquarters out there, out of the prying eyes of the civilians."

He notices Varros keeping an eye on the night sky as they speak. "If you're waiting on a raven, he's most likely to arrive in the morning. Most of the birds from Fairbrook come in an hour or two after sunrise."


Inside The Proud Pig, Oloc scans the room and the patrons, aiming to take in anything out of the ordinary. There is a moderate group of customers, locals by their appearance, almost all gathered around an elven merchant, telling a tale with the air of a person who's told the story twenty times already:

"I was just driving my cart down the road, transporting my pottery like always, when these bandits came out of nowhere. I can tell you, thought I was dead! Hand over your gold! one of them said to me. But I'm just a potter, said I. Your gold or your life, said he. The next thing I knew, a patrol of the king's soldiers came charging up the road, and the two groups had at each other. I managed to crawl out of the melee under my cart. Broke my heart to hear how much of my work got bashed to pieces above me – but better my pots than my head! Then it was over, the bandits were dead – all except for one that was badly wounded. The guards brought him and me back here, then they rushed off with the wounded bandit to have him interrogated by their leader."


OOC:  Actions?

*I took the liberty of modifying this statement slightly – Ham's Fork is small enough that it only has a tiny chapel, as opposed to Fairbrook's full-blown Temple. I know I wasn't clear about that at all; so I edited slightly on the assumption that Gaven would know this, and that Cuthbert would have communicated to him that Brother Abraham is the "senior" member of the very small group of brothers there (I hopefully kept the spirit of your intent).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wednesday 11 July 1280, Afteroon and Evening (Marching to Ham's Fork)

Varros creeps carefully back to the party and informs them of what he discovered.

"I feared as much," Oloc says. "Odd that the giant would come so close to Fairbrook. Perhaps it is an exile from its clan? In any event, we should steer clear."  He scratches his head before continuing. "Shouldn't we send a message back with Karnak to warn Belloc of the giant's proximity?"

Duran adds: "I think sending a note back to Captain Belloc would be wise. Then we should move along before the giant has a chance to spot us."

"I hate to see an agent of chaos set up a home so close to civilization," says Gaven. "But I am unsure we have the manpower to overcome a giant."

Varros agrees with the others and calls Karnak down, feeds him a bit of meat. Varros thinks the giant will leave well enough alone unless he is antagonized but he is not anxious to find out. He suggests that they move on and let Belloc decide the best course of action.

Oloc drafts a short note and with Varros' aid adds a map showing the giant's location. Karnak is then sent back to Belloc, and the party resumes its march toward Ham's Fork.

The afternoon wears on, but passes uneventfully. After four more hours the party breaks for an evening meal of rations, then completes the last few weary miles to Ham's Fork about an hour after nightfall, around eight o'clock. As you make your way up to the village, you see the shadows of what must be farm buildings in the early moonlight, before arriving on the edge of the village proper.

The village has no fortifications or gate, and you are able to simply walk in. Once inside, it's not difficult to locate the village square and you can easily discern several useful buildings in the vicinity – most notably a chapel, a stately looking house (undoubtedly the mayor's residence), and an inn, over whose front door hangs a swinging signboard:

Most of the businesses appear closed at this hour, but you see two patrons, a man and a woman, enter The Proud Pig. You also see a soldier with a tunic in the colors of the West Kingdom, like that of Belloc's men, who crosses the square heading eastward with a business-like stride.  


OOC: Actions?

The party has come down the road from the north and is at the edge of the square just a few yards from the inn. Time is about 8:00 p.m.

For future reference, I'll put the Ham's Fork Map up over on the West Kingdom Info Page, in the section on "Settlements near Fairbrook"

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wednesday 11 July, Slightly Past Noon (Big Time)

Duran instinctively reaches for his bow as he hears the sound. Unsure of what it is he asks if anyone else knows what it might be. 

Tempted to look Duran says "I don't know what that is but I am curious. However, if we want to get to the bottom of this bandit problem we may not want to investigate this sound."

"Whatever it is sounds huge," exclaims Oloc. "How about one of us edges up to the lip of that rise to see what it is, and more importantly what direction it's heading?"

While the others hold back with weapons at the ready, Varros volunteers to creep up to the top of the rise and take a look. Karnak flies up to the top of the slope and lands beside him.

Carefully peering over the top, Varros see another very broad, gentle slope, mostly wooded, about a quarter mile distant, again probably no more than ten to fifteen feet high above the surrounding plain, much like the one he just climbed. 

In a clearing in the trees atop the opposite hill, a very large humanoid, who must be about ten feet tall, is constructing a log cabin. The house looks half completed, and the giant builder is using a hefty axe to chop freshly cut tree trunks into useable logs to finish his home.

He is completely absorbed in his work, though at this distance, it's unlikely he would notice Varros'  discreet presence even if he looked straight at him anyway.

OOC:  Actions?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday 10 July 1280, Evening, to Wednesday 11 July 1280, Noon (Going South)

Varros does his best to convince Filbert that the bandits in the North and the South are related. He conveys the information about the runes to Filbert. Varros believes that even though the runes are different the bandits are linked. He asks Filbert to accompany The Free Company and stresses to him that he believes that this is the best way to recover his losses. Varros also tells Filbert he is concerned for his safety if he follows his current plan.

Gaven agrees with Varros and tries to convince Filbert to join them, "Master Filbert, if anything allow hazel to stay at the inn and hire extra mercenaries while you join us. Surely we will be able to find more information from a known source of bandit activity than by roaming the lands randomly."

Duran nods in agreement with the others as they try and convince Filbert to join them.

"Master Filbert, listen to my comrades," Oloc says. "Give us a few days to investigate this bandit activity to the south and we will return. Then we can head to the north in search of your gems." The mage then looks to his fellow adventurers. "We won't be gone too long, right?"

Filbert rubs his chin. "Well," he says, "I suppose I can hold off for a short while. I'll stay here, but I'll wait on posting these notices for the next three days. If I haven't heard from you by then, though, I'll put the posters up and start hiring as I planned. I'm not entirely convinced these bandits are one and the same group, and I know the ones who took my gems and gave me this," he points to his scar, "are up north in the keep." He smiles. "But I'd appreciate your companionship, so I can delay a few days."


The rest of Tuesday afternoon and evening, last-minute supplies are purchased, and Gaven visits the temple to see abbot Cuthbert and ask about the runes from the bandits. Upon Gaven's arrival, one of the brothers informs Gaven that the abbot is away for a few days, but that he should return within the week. The brother is kind enough to refer Gaven to one of the temple's scribes, who indeed recognizes the letters signified by the runes, but who has no knowledge of bandits and is unable to tell what the letters actually denote.


As dinner time approaches, the rain begins to slacken. Filbert and Hazel join you for your evening meal. Before retiring for the night, Filbert agrees once more not to post his help wanted announcements before Saturday morning.


You awake Wednesday morning to a partly cloudy day, with a bit of a breeze. After settling accounts with Sadie and Sal, you depart from the inn. The air in town is filled with the smell of wet stone, which, once you pass through the gate, gives way to the scent of damp grass. The road south to Ham's Fork is slightly muddy, but not enough to slow your progress noticeably. The landscape, like most of the ground in the vicinity of Fairbrook, consists of very gently rolling plain, with shallow rises and dips.

The morning passes without incident, and by the time you stop for lunch at noon, you can see the dark shadowy mass of Blackleaf Forest on the horizon to the southeast. You march on for another hour or so after your midday meal, when suddenly, from the southeast, you hear a tremendous, slow, rythmic THUNK...THUNK...THUNK coming from out of sight just beyond a low, softly rising slope in that direction.

The slope, perhaps only ten feet above the surrounding ground at its highest point, is covered only with shin-deep grass. The noise beyond it, despite how loud it is, seems to be fairly distant, maybe a few hundred yards away.


OOC:  Actions?

Four items: 

1. I assumed the party would head south as initially intended, rather than head north to hunt for the sage (which could very possibly lead to (an)other entirely non-bandit-related adventure(s), likely preventing you from having any hope of getting back in time to help Filbert). If I was wrong to make that assumption, please let me know, I'll scratch this and rewrite to go north looking for the sage. 

2.We will need a new marching order since your party has substantially changed.  Your previous marching order was this:

Front Rank: Gaven – Stan – Varros
Second Rank: Duran – Ollie – Oloc

We'll need to place Jack (merc), Gweneth (merc) and Bill (laborer) in there somewhere. In open country you can make the order whatever you like; on a road or in a typical 10' dungeon corridor, you're limited to a 3-person frontage, max. You can of course opt for a narrower frontage. Regardless, I'd say at least one person in the front rank needs to be a PC in order to keep the hirelings from balking. Probably the simplest way to work this out is for one person to propose a complete, specific marching order, and then everyone else can make suggestions to tweak (or accept the first player's proposal as-is). There's no need to add in Karnak, of course, as he just flies along above everyone.

3. Since you're leaving Fairbrook and the Tankard, it's time to settle up with cost of living. The total per PC (including each PC's share of the hireling's cost of living) is 10 gp. Please subtract those 10 gp from your character sheet.

Here are the details of calculation, if you're interested.

Cost of living expenses for your stay in Fairbrook (1 gp/level/day, counted by nights spent in the Tankard; the PCs, Stan and Ollie spent 5 nights (Friday through Tuesday), Jack and Bill spent 4 nights (hired on Saturday, so Saturday through Tuesday), Gweneth spent 2 nights (hired on Monday, so Monday and Tuesday).

PCs, Stan and Ollie: 5 gp x 6 = 30 gp
Jack and Bill: 4 gp x 2 = 8 gp
Gweneth: 2 gp x 1 = 2 gp
Total Cost of Living for the Entire Party = 40 gp
Cost per PC = 10 gp

4.  Remember to take a look at my comment in the previous post regarding armor updates for the hirelings. Any upgrade you want to do can be done retroactively ("last-minute supplies are purchased", above) -- though it really ought to be decided before your next combat  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tuesday 10 July 1280, Morning/Early Afternoon (Wrap-Up of Saturday-Monday Activities; Tuesday's Inquiries in Fairbrook)


In addition to picking up some new help over the first three days in Fairbrook, the members of the Free Company take care of business: banking cash, handing bonuses to the veteran hirelings (who are most appreciative!), picking up rations and gear, engaging in spell study and acquiring vittles for Karnak.* During his downtime, Gaven volunteers to help out at the temple and visits Elsie Miggins and Bob Barley to check in on them and let them know of the goblins' demise. Elsie seems sullen, depressed, and withdrawn, though her mother is greatly pleased to know that justice has fallen on the heads of the goblins. Bob Barley, though still grieving, is happy to receive Gaven's visit and also gets some small comfort from the defeat of the goblins.

Following his conversation with Cosmo, Gaven wraps the Moon Ribbon around the grip of his club. While he does not speak of his vision and most of his conversation with the Abbot, the cleric does tell the party about Cosmo's trips to Blackwell and about the bandits, as well as the information he gained regarding Brother Abraham and the Ham's Fork werewolves. He reminds everyone that next week is the full moon, and suggests everyone buy some silvered weapons and/or wolfsbane. This prudent course is adopted by all.

When the subject of the bandits come up, Varros fills the party in as well on Belloc's information and suggests meeting up with Alanna and developing a plan to go after the bandits. Upon learning of Brother Abraham, who is also in the vicinity to which the party intends to travel, Varros says: "Perhaps this Brother Abraham may have information on the bandits as well. Gaven, I think we should find him, he may aid us greatly."

Varros also suggests talking to Belloc and letting him know the company's intentions, as he may agree to equip the new mercenaries from their armory in order to pursue the bandits. Gaven, in turn, proposes searching out Dagwood to get more information about the miscreants.



On your fourth full day in Fairbrook, you awake to a downpour and a gray and dismal day. Nonetheless, you set forth to follow up on Varros' and Gaven's suggestions, visiting Captain Belloc and Secretary Dagwood in turn.

The captain has you come right in when you are announced to him, and seems pleased to see you. Karnak is already sitting on his window ledge, watching the heavy rain and keeping dry. Once Belloc learns of your intentions he gives a low whistle, and Karnak flutters over from the window to land on Varros' shoulder.

When Varros mentions the possibility of Belloc equipping the mercenaries, Belloc replies: "As I mentioned the other day, we're still putting ourselves back together following the battle, so I have no gear to spare. However, I just gave Berthold, the blacksmith, an excellent deal on all the metal weapons and equipment we took from the goblins, so he should be inclined to give you a good price on any armor you might want to buy for your men."** The captain quickly writes a message. "Give this to Berthold, and he should take care of you."

"Also," he adds, handing you another rolled up piece of parchment. "Here is Lieutenant Alanna's current location. She's set up headquarters just about a half mile east of the village. Safe journey and good hunting!"


After leaving Belloc's headquarters you walk to the mayor's office to speak with Dagwood. A guard leads you into the building. As you wait for a moment in the vestibule, you hear the croak of a raven within the secretary's office. A minute or two more pass, and the guard then leads you in. As you enter you see Dagwood closing an open window.

Turning around, Dagwood recognizes you from the Red Tankard: "I hear you've been quite busy of late. Not a bad bit of work from a company that was completely unknown a few days ago. I'm rather impressed." 

Once you explain your business, he nods: "Ah yes, our bandit problem. My latest information from lieutenant Alanna suggests that the bandits are working out of a hideout in western Blackleaf. We originally thought they were based on Cobb's Hill since there have been bandit camps there in the past. But all the incidents with this band have been between Ham's Fork and Fairbrook. And a number of the surviving eyewitnesses claim that the bandits ran off east toward the forest. Her men have tracked them as far as the edge, and they've seen several trees on the border of the forest marked with the same runes." Dagwood holds out a drawing of it:

"This came in by raven not two minutes before you. It's from Alanna's most recent report. But I don't know what the runes mean, nor does she. They read 'R' and 'S' in the common tongue. But what they stand for is unclear. Apart from that, I have no new information to give to you. I agree with Belloc that you should consult with lieutenant Alanna once you arrive in Ham's Fork. It takes almost a day for information to get from her to us. She can give you the most current details on the situation once you're there."

As he rises to see you out, he adds: "It's a shame mayor Adsul's currently out of town on the King's business. I'm sure when he returns he'll be glad to hear that you've taken an interest in this bandit business. Oh, and one more thing," he says, handing you another piece of paper. "We're putting out a 500 gold piece bounty for the bandit leader, dead or alive. We had hoped to take care of this without a bounty, but the situation is getting worse. I was going to have these posted today; there's no reason you shouldn't get an advance copy."


The rain continues steadily as you return to the inn. When you arrive at the Red Tankard you see Master Filbert standing under the eaves hammering up a poster of his own:

As you approach, he turns and greets you. "You fellows seem to be heading south. I understand you have to do what you have to do, and I appreciate your earlier offer of help. But my stolen gems went north, so that's where I'll have to go, with or without you. If you finish your business down south before I get underway in the next few days, I'll be glad to have you join me. I'll be here at the Tankard until I have enough men to go after the robbers."

OOC:  Actions?

*Feel free to double check that I made correct note of the hirelings' gear you just purchased. It's over on the PC information page, beneath the links to your own pages. If you guys choose to buy better armor and/or missile weapons for the hirelings, just let me know so I can add that to the list.

**With the captain's paper in hand, Berthold will give you a one-time 10% discount on any metal armor you buy for the mercs and/or for yourselves.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday 6 July - Monday 9 July 1280 (Resting and Refitting)


Once your business in Cosmo's back room is complete, the old man leads you back down the excessively long hallway to front room of his antique shop.

Oloc thanks Cosmo for allowing the group to examine his 'back room' and the magical treasures therein. "I definitely plan on returning in the future," he adds with a smile.

"You will always be most welcome," says Cosmo. "Do come back any time."

As the rest of the group files out of the shop, Gaven hangs back briefly to have a few more private words with Cosmo.

Gaven holds up the ribbon and says, "Whenever I hold this ribbon, I feel ...warmth... but when others hold it or even look at it, they feel repulsed. Why would that happen?"

Cosmo nods and says: "Yes, I noticed a midly unpleasant feeling when I picked it up – mild in my case because of my experience which causes magical items have comparatively little effect on me. Such an effect could have numerous causes. It is possible that the item was crafted specifically for you, and no one else. Or, it could be that the item was destined for anyone with some specific quality, and you just happen to have that quality, whatever it is. Alternatively, there are also magical items with some level of intelligence, for lack of a better word, that actively seek out their owners in such a manner. Which of these is the case, I cannot say."

Gaven then asks, "What do you know of Blackwell Keep and have you heard of Dagmar?"

Cosmo suddenly looks nostalgic. "Dagmar...now that is a name I've not heard in many years. What a wonderful woman she was – strong, committed. She asked me to go with her into Blackwell, you know. She wanted me as a guide. In my youth I made one or two trips in there myself – only into the upper levels though. Things have undoubtedly changed since then. When I went in, it was all spiders and other giant vermin. Now I hear that the place is overrun by kobolds and morlocks."

"Dagmar..." he says again. "I have often wondered these many years what fate befell her. When she came to me to serve as a guide, I had to decline as I had business elsewhere. Perhaps if I had gone with her she might not have disappeared. Or perhaps I would have been lost as well. At any rate, there is no changing such things. The dead are dead, and what has passed is done, as a mighty warrior friend of mine used to say."

Finally, Gaven asks: "What do you know of the bandit problem? Has anyone tried to fence stolen goods?"

Cosmo raises an eyebrow. "I can assure you that my goods are acquired legitimately and that my business is entirely above board. I have no knowledge at all of fences or any other personnages of such distasteful ilk. If you want to know about bandits and fences, you'll want to speak to Captain Belloc or perhaps to the mayor's secretary, Dagwood. I only know the rumors that everyone in town knows about the bandit activity to the south. Either of those two could fill you in on the most up-to-date details."

Gaven thanks Cosmo for his help before leaving and catching up to the others.



You spend the next three days resting up and attending to business. As promised Sadie has put the word out and posted placards indicating the employment opportunity you offer. In all it costs you 30 gold to make the necessary postings and inquiries but the expense pays off rapidly. On the very first day you get one laborer, a young dwarf named Bill, and one human mercenary, named Jack. Two days later, you succeed in acquiring the services of a second mercenary, an elven female called Gweneth.**

As this is going on, Oloc spends two days locked in a room at the Tankard copying the spells from his newly purchased scrolls into his spellbook.

Duran and Varros take advantage of the down time to look for a trainer. Shortly after they begin their search, they bump into Sergeant Ragnar, one of Belloc's men, whom they had previously met in the aftermath of the battle with the goblins. In the course of their conversation, they mention to Ragnar that they are looking for a trainer. A grizzled veteran, Ragnar offers his services for a reasonable price, and a deal is struck. "Whenever you're ready to begin your training, come seek me out at the guard barracks."***



After the first two days have passed, and Oloc comes down from his isolation, you begin to consider your next task. Most seem interested in pursuing the bandits, and of course Filbert is all in favor of that: "I'm ready for some action!" exclaims the halfling. "I've got gems – and my pride – to recover!"

As a first step, down this path, Varros pays a visit to Belloc to inquire after aid in a few men or Karnak. Belloc says: "I'd certainly be glad to send Karnak with you. I'd like to be kept informed of anything you uncover about the bandit activity. Men, however, can be tricky."

"If you are going after the bandits my men in the south are already hunting, you should go to my lieutenant, Alanna. She's directing the operation on the spot down there, and can give you the latest information. She may even be able to spare you a few of her men, depending on circumstances."

"As for the bandits on the Woodfield road that robbed your halflings, I haven't the men to spare at the moment, nor have I anyone in place up there to deal with them right now. Many of my troops were wounded in the battle and are still recovering. Most of those that weren't have been sent out to mop up the goblins that fled."

"If you go north, you'll be on your own – though that's all the more reason for Karnak to go with you. Once you decide for certain what you intend to do, let me know, and I'll assign Karnak to you and give you a letter of introduction to Lieutenant Alanna, if necessary."


OOC:  Actions?

*Though I post private conversations openly on the blog, (as I've been doing, for example, with Gaven's exchanges with the abbot),  remember no PCs other than those involved in the conversation can act on the info the involved PC shares the info.

So, for example, at the moment, no one other than Gaven as yet knows about Brother Abraham (though there is general knowledge, in the newcomer's guide, about "a cleric of the light" who sets traps for werewolves in Blackleaf forest), the abbot's reaction to the ribbon, Gaven's vision or Dagmar's dream, or Cosmo's trips into the upper levels of Blackwell as a youth. The same applies to Varros' conversation with the captain. (So Dienekes and Professor P should simply mention which items, if any, they share with the group).

**Hireling costs:

30 gp for search costs
12 gp up front wages (5 for each merc, and 2 for the laborer)

42 gp total
42 gp divided 4 ways = 13 gp each (please subtract from your gold; if this was more than anyone bargained for, we can always edit down the number of hirelings).

Also, remember you'll need to purchase rations for the new hirelings before setting out. Let me know how much you want to buy for them. You'll also need to provide an updated marching order.

***Whenever you guys level up, he'll be there. The cost will be whatever you choose to spend for xp conversion.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friday 6 July 1280, Evening (Conversing with Cosmo)

Oloc examines all of the treasures in Cosmo's room with great interest. He asks questions about various items and listens intently to Cosmo. Finally he settles on two scrolls (Read Magic and Magic Missile) for purchase.

Duran thanks Cosmo for the information and says "I'll keep the arrows in mind when I have some extra coin." Duran says he may save up for it but now needs to use his money for training.

Varros too is ready to accompany Duran to check into training. Varros thanks Cosmo and asks about the symbols the party found carved into the tree.

Cosmo looks at the symbols and says: "Hmm...simply a pair of runes...G and F. I really couldn't say what they mean. Perhaps G is in love with F. Or perhaps someone with the initials G.F. was marking his property. Who knows?"

Cosmo carefully drops Oloc's money into a small box, closes it, and taps on the lid, muttering something under his breath. The lock on the box glows briefly, then the faint light fades. He places the scrolls into a fitted leather pouch and hands them over to the magic-user.

"The pouch is quite waterproof," he says, "– no extra charge. Is there anything else I can help you gentlemen with?"


OOC: Other questions for Cosmo?

If you have any other questions for Cosmo, go ahead and ask; if not just put "no questions" or something like that in the comments. Once everyone's done with Cosmo, I'll have you guys head back to the inn, where you can plan your next move.

I'll include in that "return-to-the-inn" post a number of things that you've already indicated you want to do:

-- the training for Duran and Varros (this would take two weeks, if we're looking at the "martial training of the XP rules);
-- picking up your new hirelings (that will take a total of three days)
-- scroll copying for Oloc (I assume? – that will take two days)

All times will be concurrent, so doing all of this will take two weeks of game time (the time of Duran and Varros' training). After all your PCs have been through in 72 hours, they can probably use a two-week rest!

Also begin thinking about where you want to go next. The majority seem to want to wait to tackle the ruins once you hit level 2. But there are threads that can still be tugged on some more, and you can of course also come up with other ideas of your own, just looking at the map (e.g. plan a trip to X just to see what adventure comes up, etc.). Or you can even choose to wait and see if anything pops up while the two weeks of Duran's and Varros' training goes by. I'm always rolling for encounters, so something may simply pop up that way... :)