Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (All Clear?)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


OOC: Actions?


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

Visibility, at the end of the post:

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

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

Duran can see everybody.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Afternoon (Bluff and Sneak)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


OOC: Actions?

Notes on visibility and audibility:  

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


OOC: Actions?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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


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



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



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

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


OOC:  Actions?

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

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

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

Time is just after 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (Patience)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then comes back out to recover the next corpse.


OOC: Actions?

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oloc and Gaven readily give their consent to this idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


OOC: Actions?

Time is 1:00 p.m. 

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thursday 12 July 1280, Midday (Considering Options)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


OOC: Actions?

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

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

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

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

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