Monday, November 23, 2009

Mid-Day, the Narrow Way to Lindau

Friday, May 16, 1650


Two miles further down the road, you come to a sign, with two arrows pointing. To the right, the wide road paved with blocks that you’ve been travelling, the sign reads ‘Ravensburg, Buchhorn.’

To the left is a narrower road made of cobblestones rather than blocks, where the trees come right up to the edge and haven’t been cut back. The sign that way reads, ‘Lindau.’

Jan indicates that this is the road. ‘We shall more easily gain passage there than in Buchhorn – in a day and a half we shall finally rest our weary feet, and make our way down the Rhine.’

Before continuing on, Jan stops to cast a spell. He announces that it will rain soon, and rain heavily ... “We will have to walk ten miles before we can find shelter.”

At that, he begins up the road. It is very little time before you learn that the road is quite steep in places, and that it rises and descends in stages – you will have climbed more than a thousand feet before the day is out.

Sure enough, the rain starts; by now you've guessed that Jan has a predict weather spell.  It's pretty miserable; the rain makes trickles, then runs of water along the sides of the road, often sweeping across the road from one side to the other where the slope allows.  Emmanuel is suffering a fair bit, as he has low soft boots, but he remains stoic and betrays it only in his expression, not in his voice.

The steady climb becomes less and less pleasant, but from time to time you're blessed with a fine view of the landscape, marked by hills covered with trees.  Now and then you see a wild apple tree in bloom, and there are petals scattered on the soaked road in many places.

Jan points out a low stone post with a Roman numeral IV on it, claiming that it is four miles to a hostel at the high point of the road.  Not long after, you come across the first other travellers you've seen on the road: a family whose cart has slipped off the road and is now stuck in the mud.

There's a father, about forty, and a boy about fourteen pushing at the back of the cart, while a boy of twelve is managing the reins on a sad-looking donkey, well along in years. A young girl, no more than six, sits in the back of the cart, covering herself from the rain with a dripping shawl.

56 comments:

Andrej said...

Andrej will pull his hood up over his head and do his best to saty dry as we walk. Otheriwse, I'm waiting.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll tuck my lute into my pack, protecting it as best as I can, and soldier on.

(OOC - I was curious and went back to the map that you provided back when we first started - if we're headed to Lindau, why did we detour through Ausburg, etc? Is there common knowledge about this route or would Delfig be in the dark?)

Alexis said...

Only just noticed that the comment I posted got lost.

In answer to your question, Delfig, the map I posted back then was a slightly earlier version, without roads west of Augsburg - I think I mentioned that back then. Those roads have since been added, and represent the safest route ... you could have travelled on lesser roads over a shorter distance, but there would have been more up and down, and it would have been more dangerous.

I've added more description in the original post, to describe further events, which neither of you could have seen as the original copy of this comment was somehow lost.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I look at my companions. "Shall we give them an assist?"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - thanks for the info. It looks like we're going to head off the map, would you be able to post a map that has the area of our journey? I'm more curious, if you've got it. If not, no worries. The map was much appreciated when we started out.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I think I would rather not post the map; you are getting to know my world better, and since your character would not have a map in his possession - though he might buy one - it would seem more correct to leave Delfig and the others in the dark on this)

Andrej said...

"Yes, let us lend a hand"

If the family has come from the direction we're going, Andrej will inquire about the road ahead and ask for any news. He'll also warn them of the trap Neil's friends might be setting if they happen to be going that way.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Where are these people from? Where are they headed? Do they have news of the roads ahead?

How does Jan/Emmanuel react?

Alexis said...

The family seems to have come from the direction you've come. The father's name is Horst; he has no special news to tell the party.

He will gratefully accept your aid. Jan is as enthusiastic to help as Andrej and Delfig; he has Emmanuel tether your donkey to the cart and together both donkeys are able to extract it from the mud.

Horst explains that he is headed to Lindau. "I'm a boatbuilder," he says. "Fifteen years I've practiced my trade in Ulm, but the trade's been poor since '47; I've made arrangements with the guild in Lindau to work there."

Horst wipes the wet from his head, looking at the four of you. "I'd be grateful if you'd let us travel together," he says. "The road's not safe, and I'm a man alone. Fathers, I'd make a fair contribution to the church if you'd lead me on my way."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

After helping the family retrieve their cart from the road, I nod my agreement that we travel together for awhile.

"Has the war affected trade in Ulm or other misfortunes? Are these your children?"

Andrej said...

I'll also assent to accompanying Horst and his family.

(OOC: Regarding a contribution to the church, Alexis, I read over some of the materials you sent on the cleric re: tithing and how such funds could then be used but could use a brief refresher.)

Alexis said...

"Yes, the protestants burned the whole city three years ago. And although there's been building and building, trade's not what it was. So much of it has moved to Nuremburg.

"And yes, these are my children. This is my oldest Adelbert, and my son Waldmunt, and my daughter Ouise."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I greet each child in turn and then look back at Horst. "We are on our way to a nearby hostel to escape the weather. Let's move on!"

Assuming we travel on, I'd like to ask Horst what they are building in Ulm. At some point, I'd also like to ask him to tell of his travels along the road, if he's encountered the bandits, or strange animals of white.

Alexis said...

Andrej,

Once the tithe is obtained, the cleric is more or less free to spend it as they wish - there's no 'rule of law' that exempts a cleric from spending it on his or her self, to buy shiny new toys and so on ... after all, members of the church have long seized upon tithes to enrich themselves.

However, should it come to a point where a cleric's faith is in question, how the tithe was spent will reflect very definitely upon how the cleric is viewed by those greater powers. Ask for a return from God and expect nothing, if you have given nothing.

The most appropriate ways to spend tithes fall into four categories: to give money to the poor, that they might become dependent, and therefore pawns, of the church; to erect shrines and temples, towards the glory of the church; to obtain articles of power, to support the strength of the church; and to wage war against enemies of the church, or to crusade.

This last is certainly the least well defined; it presupposes some specific goal, rather than simply randomly selecting enemies - it usually means acquiring land for the sake of the church, such as Holy Lands that were obtained for a brief period. The Inquisition, of course, would fit into this last category. In almost every case, spending money to wage war on behalf of the church requires the approval of some high authority within the church; once a player reached ninth level, the equivalent level of a Bishop, that authority could be self-given. Until then, before one goes off to buy men and equipment to eradicate the church's enemies in a specific valley, it is usually good to get permission.

Any of that help?

Alexis said...

Horst has not seen any animal that you speak of. He has had little trouble along the road, though it has been five days since he left Ulm (in comparison, the party managed it in two).

The building he speaks of regarding Ulm is the rebuilding of the city, which has gone on since the city was destroyed in the war.

Horst has 29 s.p. to give to the party, in return for which he hopes to receive a boon from God. This is 10% of all he owns. As it happens, he receives no boon, but it was very unlikely that he would (4% chance). Jan suggests that the money be used to pay for general travel expenses.

It takes nearly two more hours to reach shelter, due to the rain, the road, the difficulties with Horst's cart and so on. The hostel Jan spoke of, you discover, is an uninhabited open wooden structure, with two doors and glassless windows. There is a fireplace within, and evidence that people have dwelt here in the last few days. It is empty when the eight of you reach it; a supply of dry wood has been stored inside, as well as a metal rack for holding a pot above the fire. Compared to sleeping outdoors, it is considerably more comfortable.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Thanks Alexis, very helpful)

Andrej agrees to put the silver toward travel expenses. Let's get a fire going, eat and rest then set our normal watch (Delfig the first, Andrej the second and Jan & Emmanuel the last). I'd recommend, Delfig, us not expecting Horst to stand a watch by himself. If he'd like to stand one anyway, he can elect to sit with either you or me.

(OOC: What's the protocol here, Alexis, should we re-gather and stack some firewood prior to leaving? If so, let's assume we do that in the morning before setting off)

Alexis said...

Andrej,

Assuming you ask Jan about the wood, he'll explain that there's a local woodsman and forester who oversee the hostel; they do this of their own accord, without expecting compensation.

Horst will remain awake with Delfig, as he usually does not sleep until long after dark, a matter he claims is the substance of his constitution.

He shares his salt pork with the party, in exchange for vegetables, and everyone eats. The children are bedded down, while the adults speak quietly among themselves. Horst is speaking of the beauty of Lindau, where he has been once before, when he is interrupted by a loud snort that comes from outside.

Andrej said...

Regarding the nature of the snort, being trianed in husbandry and presumably around domestic animals of all types, am I able to recognize it? Without overreacitng and leaping to action I ensure my staff is at habd and stand up to peer out the windows and doors to see what I can see.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - have a meeting, miss a lot)

I will put down my lute, which I've been strumming on quietly while listening to Horst, and reach for my crossbow.

"Andrej..." I whisper. "Anything you recognize? If not, I may be able to discern something."

Alexis said...

To Andrej's ears, it sounds like a horse; but as people step up to peer out the windows, it's clear that about 30 yards away there stands a white stag.

"Is that the one?" asks Jan.

Andrej said...

"I would say so, brother Jan, unless this land is lousy with white stags."

Andrej will set aside his staff, and slowly approach the animal. Understanding the creature is not domestic he will nonetheless behave in a manner that a tame creature would fine reassuring and friendly, utilizing his early training to the extent that he can. Andrej will attempt to approach within arm's reach of the stag.

Alexis said...

Jan will encourage Andrej not to try this, while at the same time will give every evidence that it was his intention also. He will hold back, as Andrej moves forward.

As he does, he remembers from his knowledge of animals that stags rut in the fall, thankfully. They are given to be docile the rest of the year round.

The stag will let Andrej get within ten paces, and then will drop its head and start to charge.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - Heh. I was going to post something in between Andrej's action last night and Alexis's stag charge, but I didn't count on a late night update. Here's hoping you survive! :> )

"Andrej!" I yell out.

I'm going to risk something, hoping that this is no ordinary stag and that it understands my language. I'm going to attempt a Command of STOP at it.

Andrej said...

eh boy...

(OO: Good thinking Delfig, I hope it works!)

Andrej does his best to not be where the stag's antlers are. Would it be possible through some combination of moves to get up onto the roof of the hostel?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC: You and me both! Holy crap!)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I once had a bull do this to me at the bottom of a gulley. I've never moved so fast)

The stag only comes forward about three steps - the charge is nothing more than a feint. It stops, lifts its head again, and regards the onlookers.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Do I lose the Command spell?

I will remain still, barely breathing, watching Andrej and the stag.

Alexis said...

I'm afraid yes, Delfig loses the command spell. He'd have to combine it with speak with animals in order for it to work. But since it was cast, it's gone.

Jan cannot help getting a smile on his face, gazing at brother Andrej. "Have faith, lad," he says. He then attempts to do the same as Andrej had. He moves closer to the stag, hands out, holding no weapons. He is about 20 yards from Andrej, 30 yards from the rest of the party.

The stag does the same - feints with a charge. But perhaps because Jan has the example of Andrej, he stops, holds his ground, and the stag stops also. They both stand still, regarding each other.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - not a problem, I gave myself a fairly poor chance of it working, but nothing ventured, nothing gained...)

I will move cautiously behind Andrej and Jan, holding my hands out as they did and stand firm if the stag feints towards me. I won't make any threatening moves.

Andrej said...

Despite the warning, I remain more curious than cautious and hope that we've boght some good will with the stag over the wolf episode. He's apparently curious about us, whether he has a supernatural aspect or not.

I'll try to get closer still, stopping and standing still each time the stag makes a move to charge. My goal will be to put a hand on the creature's flank and give it a pet.

Alexis said...

There seems to be a disconnect here on the distance. While Delfig might move up behind Andrej, that would still put them both 60 feet from both Jan and the stag. Jan is perhaps ten paces, or 20 feet, from the stag, and at the moment is should be clear that any movement from anyone might upset the animal.

Jan, however, decides to do as Andrej suggests, moving closer still, stopping and standing as the stag flinches. It does not again make a move to charge (unless Andrej does want to come forward; as a husbandman, he should know that a second person would certainly cause the beast to flee)

Andrej said...

Ahhh... understand now that Jan is in the front after I was trying to crawl on the roof. By all means, let the friar take the lead... Andrej will hang back and stand still.

Alexis said...

Jan manages to get close enough that he is able to hold out his hand to the nose of the stag. The stag sniffs, slightly turns it's head, and takes a halting step forward. Jan puts a hand on the side of its neck, patting it. Then he moves around the animal, stroking it with his hand.

The stag lets him, giving a shiver and letting out another snort - the breath crystalizes in the cold night air (it has stopped raining). Jan gives the party a glance of happiness, even waves his hand in pleasure.

At which point the stag turns on him, and gores him with the nearer horn.

Andrej said...

Andrej will rapidly close the distance to Jan and attempt to assist or pull him back to the safety of the hostel, depending on what shape he's in. My intent from here on in is to get us all away from the stag and hope he's content with having gotten one shot in on the friar.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I will move to assist Andrej in pulling Jan back to the hostel.

Alexis said...

I'll need a d6 from someone.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

1d6: 4

Andrej said...

d6: 3

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I'm glad my timestamp is sooner than yours :P)

Alexis said...

Neither of you are surprised, so there's no delay.

It will take both characters two rounds to cover the distance (20-25' the first round, 40-45' the second, depending on whether you're wearing leather armor). You hear Jan cry out, while the stag strikes at him and tramples him.

Once you reach the stag, you win initiative (using Andrej's roll). So you may both attempt to hit.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'm intending on grabbing Jan and dragging him away from the stag... do I need to roll to hit to do that?

Alexis said...

No, but it does leave you open to being hit.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Understood. I'll proceed to attempt to save Jan, yelling for Emmanuel to come help us. And I mean yelling LOUD to try and startle the stag away.

Andrej said...

ditto

Alexis said...

I assume neither of you are attacking; the stag does not. Faced with both of you, it prances away. At Delfig's shout, it does startle, and bolts for the thicker forest.

Jan is in bad shape. He has been wounded three times, and is draining blood fast. His hands and face are covered in it. He will struggle to tell Delfig something - it sounds like an Italian word ... "Della cotta."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Going back to what I learned from my father, is there any hope of saving Jan? I will do the best I can, tearing bandages, etc, to stop the bleeding and stabilize him. (Anything I can do here beyond what I'm describing?)

"Della cotta, Friar?" I will ask. (I don't believe I know Italian... INT of 10)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - you know this is going to make me check my emails all evening and into tomorrow. Sadistic DM. I like you. :> )

Alexis said...

(OOC: Whenever any attack does 11 damage or more, the subject of the attack is 'wounded', which means that he or she will bleed 1 hp per round until the wound is bound. Binding a wound takes three rounds. If an attack does 22 damage, the wound will cause 2 hp per round and require twice as long. Each multiple of 11 damage works in the same way.

A second rule by which I play is that leveled persons may fall to -9 hp before dying. At each point below zero, the player's stats are all reduced by 10% per point - thus, a player with an 18 strength would have a 9 strength at -5 hp, a 7.2 strength at -6 hp and so on.

This gets interesting with character abilities, for as the abilities drop, so too does the ability. A cleric with a 13 wisdom, for example, would have an 11.7 wisdom at -1 hp; he could still cast spells, but as his wisdom is reduced, he would suffer a 10% chance of spell failure, as his wisdom would be treated as an 11. Moreover, if he were at -4 hp, his wisdom would have dropped to 7.8, and he could no longer act as a cleric at all - his wisdom would be less than 9.

The same principle applies to thieving skills, mages knowing their spells, paladins losing the protection of evil - pretty much any time they drop below zero hp - and so on)

Jan has suffered three wounds; the real danger here is that while you are binding up the first wound, the other two continue to seep blood ... so you must reach all three wounds in time.

As Jan's intelligence drops, a result of leaking blood, it becomes harder and harder to understand him. But you are able to guess he is trying to say a complete name: "sssssaaa ... f' ... aaa dddee ... cott ..."

Andrej said...

I have a cure light wounds spell I'd like to put to use here. How will that effect the three separate wounds?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I now have reached full immersion into your game - I'm caring a great deal if Jan lives or dies.)

I will do the best I can to stop the bleeding as best I can.

"Andrej, pray to G*d that this good man doesn't die! If you can do something, do it! He's slipping away from me."

"Yes, I understand." I'll say to Jan, tears trickling down my face. "Serafina Della Cotta, in Sion. I will bring her to Hornung."

Andrej said...

(OOC: I too am worried about losing Jan)

"We were fools to believe it was anything but a stag. I was the biggest fool among us. Our Father, who art in Heaven..."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - Today being the US Thanksgiving Holiday, I'm hoping to eat and play D&D with my wife today. I will check my email for notices. I'm really hoping CLW is a "full body" effect!)

Alexis said...

Cure light wounds is a full body effect. I wrote that last night, but once again blogger seems not to have accepted the post. Andrej should roll a d4+4 for hit points for Jan.

(OCC: I don't understand - Thanksgiving was six weeks ago. Hah hah.

Yes, it being Thanksgiving, play, watch football, whatever; we'll suspend for the day. Jan is all right (low on hit points), and we can pick this up later. I have a job interview in the morning tomorrow, so there won't be much chance to do much before next week)

Andrej said...

(Thanksgiving three weeks ago? You Canadians get everything wrong. Good luck on the interview Alexis... Happy Thanksgiving Chgowiz. My wife and I will also be playing some tonight)

Oh, and Andrej rolled an 8 (4+4) to heal Jan

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I feel strangely relieved at Jan's survival. I'm curious how the wounds will have scarred him. I'm assuming that cumulative stat drop is permanent. Thank you for the kind wishes, good luck on your interview tomorrow and I hope you get to feeling better. We'll restart on Monday, then?)

At Andrej's prayer/spell, I breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of Jan's wounds stabilizing. "Thank the Lord!"

"Emmanuel!" I call out... "Come help me with the Friar!" I'll attempt to carry him back to the hostel.

Alexis said...

Andrej's healing brings Jan up to -2 hit points. But no, the cumulative stat drop isn't permanent ... it only reflects the current negative - so that at the moment, Jan's stats are at 80% normal.

The spell closes the wounds very nicely, so that almost no scar will be left; Jan's own cure light wounds fails due to his wisdom, so it won't be until the next day that he is able to walk again. Andrej will have to forgo taking the watch in order to rest and regain his spell, so he can bring Jan above zero.

Jan is completely baffled as to why the stag attacked him so viciously. There was no reason for it. It should have fled or accepted his touch - only during rutting season would a stag act that way. He is as convinced as Andrej and Delfig that something is not right with it.

The party lays Jan down and Emmanuel cares for him. Horst is beside himself, as of course he's never seen anything like it. But Andrej is able to counsel him to calm him.

(OOC: We should be able to pick up the running on the next morning in the campaign; that will be Monday real time. The interview didn't go that well ... I was too honest)