Friday, November 13, 2009

Mid-Day, the Road South to Lindau

Thursday, May 15, 1650

A little background information.  Ulm is a free city within the Holy Roman Empire, surrounded by its private environs.  There are many such independent cities and small states, nominally independent, but part of the whole.

The road is less travelled, and somewhat overshadowed by heavy forest, which presses in upon the road on both sides.  It is also much more up and down, not the steady climb and fall you experienced from Augsburg to Ulm.  Here,

As you travel south, you come to a toll gate only four miles south of Ulm - this is a cost to pass through the land of the Knight Imperial of Welden.  The cost is 4 copper pieces each, and 8 c.p. for the donkey (Jan will obviously pay).  You travel only another 8 miles before you come to the other side of Welden, whereupon you find yourself entering the Duchy of Wurttemberg, which will cost you 5 c.p. to enter, and 10 c.p. for the donkey.

Just beyond the second toll gate, you see a group of three men laying about a cold fire.  They see you, and speak among themselves for ten or fifteen seconds - and then one begins to walk towards you.  He takes off his hat, to look more humble, but he seems insincere.  He smells fairly rank, and has a rough, untrimmed beard that's about an inch long, and blackened teeth. 

"Fathers, friends," he says.  "Me and my companions have found ourselves in a bad way, as it were, having fallen on poor luck.  We were soldiers during the war, but we're naught but villeins now, seeking a bit of work and just a bit of food, to carry us on as it were.  I can't help noticing you're heading south to Biberach and beyond, and knowing that it's not a safe road, not safe at all, you might spare us some goodwill and let us guide your way."

Now, just for your knowledge, Biberach an der Riss is on the road, about ten miles south of here, and Jan expected to reach it before the end of the day.

(OOC:  I don't want to have Jan run this party, so I'm going to have him remain more or less indecisive regarding this, and let Andrej and Delfig make up their minds).

Update: Map


71 comments:

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - was your comment that Jan is paying for the donkey, or Jan was paying for all of us?)

I look at the three slowly - how are they armed?

Alexis said...

(OOC: Jan is paying for the donkey. You're paying for yourselves)

The one you're talking to has no visible weapon; the other two are hard to judge, being some ten yards away, and their packs laying on the ground.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - just wanted to be sure. I've updated my CRS.)

I will greet the man carefully and provide him a waterskin if he is thirsty.

"Please allow us to discuss among ourselves, good man, and we will let you know."

I will wait for him to withdraw before speaking to Andrej and Jan.

(OOC - Damn, I just realized I forgot to tell you about any sort of preparation after our fight with the wolf. What are the odds that I remembered to have my heavy cross bow half cocked on the donkey like the previous day?)

Andrej said...

Quietly, amongst our group: "Delfig, I do not trust these men. Let us tell them no thanks and be on our way quickly. Should they mean to do us harm let us find out now. I shall pray for guidance. The Lord will show me thier true intent... you do the talking."

Andrej will cast Detect Malevolence as discreetly as possible and warn both Jann and Emmannuel to prepare for trouble. Once cast, I ready my staff and await Delfig and his silvered tongue.

Alexis said...

Andrej,

To do so discreetly, you would want to move a good distance away, perhaps fifty feet; the range of the spell is 60', so you could mumble it quietly over there, and then direct it individually at the strangers. There's no way you could do it in front of the spokesman without him knowing you're casting a spell.

Andrej said...

Based on Alexis's response, Delfig, I propose this: Let us all step away from the spokesman, say 20' or so if we're no already that far away, and I'll continue moving away the extra 30' to perform the casting while you three pretend to discuss the matter. Once cast, I'll make my way back toward our group, directing the spell's area of effect toward the strangers. Let us then step forward 10', and beckon the spokesman to do likewise. If I detect no malevolanece I will give no sign, you politely decline the offer. If I still detect no malevolence, let Friar Jan decide if he wishes to give foodstuff as charity, I have no objection if you don't but won't offer the Friar's goods. If at any time I detect malevolence I will recite the Lord's prayer "Our Father, which art in heaven..." At this time we should initiate an attack.

I know it all sounds stange written out, but walking 50' away then back after casting with 6 second rounds shouldn't seem too crazy.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I shake my head. "I would not use your magic thusly, if they are peaceful, but out of work, it would not do to provoke them. If they are malevolent, our refusal will show their true nature. I say we simple prepare for battle, refuse their offer and move on, keeping aware of them."

Andrej said...

"My concern is if they let us pass but still wish us harm... I would not leave an enemy at our backs if I could help it."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Very well. I shall go to my pack and get some food with the stranger in an attempt to distract him. I'll also have my waterskin out. I cannot get to my crossbow in time, should they move to aggression, so you may leave us in a bad position. Be ready to call God's help upon us if that happens."

Once Andrej moves way, I will call the spokesman over to near me and the mule and make a show of offering him some food (I'll sacrifice a ration) and water for him and his friends.

Alexis said...

Delfig,

As described, the action would not provoke the men. There might be accepted reasons why Andrej might just wander off. It depends on how bright the men are; by my system, its unlikely they have an intelligence higher than 2-12.

If the men mean you harm, they might attempt to jump Jan, Emmanuel and Delfig while Andrej is further away.

Andrej, there's a couple of things. One, after you've cast the spell, you can only move 5' per round while investigating each 10' arc of the circle. All three men could be checked in two rounds, as they are close together.

Sorry if I am pre-empting the decision making process. I only want to demonstrate the practical aspects of spellcasting.

Alexis said...

Darn,

Regarding Delfig's crossbow, make a wisdom check, d20. If it equals your wisdom or less, your crossbow is loaded.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Delfig, it's a donkey, not a mule. But funny, I keep making that error too).

What does Delfig say to the man?

Andrej said...

(OOC: Alexis, before we commit to an action... since the spell is directional in nanture and lasts several rounds, could I not stay closer to the group and simply turn my back while casting to avoid notice? Perhaps in conjunction with an activity such as kneeling and praying? I don't want to belabor all of this, but I'd like to know what these guys are about without putting our side at an immediate disadvantage should fighting erupt immediately)

Alexis said...

(OOC: There are specific behaviors and movements with spells - all have somatic and verbal components in my system, none material - that people would recognize, even if your back was turned.

As I described the scene, two of the men are more or less sitting on the ground, 30' feet away, and the one facing you shows no weapons. He would still be surrounded by three people, even if you moved away. Not much of a disadvantage.

Please, it's best that we do belabor these points. It's the only way we learn)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

My WIS is an 18. I rolled a 14. My crossbow is loaded. Thank you.

"Come, let me get you some food, as you look hungry and the good clerics here would want me to share. We were just about to stop anyway as one of us needed to relieve himself."

"How is it that you came to here?"

(OOC - I appreciate the thoroughness of the explanation.)

Andrej said...

In that case I'll step away as per the original plan (as if to releive myself, taking Delfig's cue) to cast the spell and slowly walk back focusing first on spokesan, then his companions once in range. If possible I'd like to keep my staff at hand, holding it in the manner of a walking stick.

Alexis said...

"We've been huntin' grims," says the spokesman. "Got to know them dwellin' up there in those hills -" he points behind Delfig; "- but we ain't been able to do nothing about it. There's good price that's paid for dead grims."

(OOC: The conversation will go on for a bit before Andrej can get where he's going, cast and get an answer. Its the weekend, and I'm about to lose the rest of my day. Delfig, you can answer the man if you've got the chance).

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - grims? Is that a slang word I would know? I'm guessing on that note, we'll leave it for the weekend, and have a good one. This has been very interesting!)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - gentlemen, I am in a royal fuck of a funk. Yesterday's game has really just set me into a bad head place, mainly of my doing, but also I think of a bit of burnout. I'd like to ask that I lay low today to get my head into a good place - it usually takes me about a day - and I'll be good for tomorrow (Tues)?)

Andrej said...

(OOC: No worries on my end. I'll be ready to go when you are.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: When you guys are ready)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I will be able to participate tomorrow after 11am CST - my boss has decided that I'm the focus of her attentions today. Nails. Blackboard. My ass has a few chunks missing.)

Andrej said...

(OOC: So are we all set to go? Alexis, unless you are awaiting for another go-ahead from either me or Chgowiz, I think the ball is in your court.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I've been waiting for Delfig, who said he'd get back on it today. He never answered the man while you were walking away. Apparently, however, Delfig's still hung up by work, so I'll take the cue and move forward)

We'll assume Delfig has answered something benign, giving Andrej time to move in place, cast the spell and direct it at the others.

They are clearly malevolent.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Just to re-baseline us before Andrej goes and does something intentionally rash, could you describe where each of our party and each of the strangers is standing/ sitting etc... my intent once I am sure I understand the layout is to start "Lord's Prayer-ing" and hit somebody over the head with my staff... hard)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - my mistake. I had said I'd be good after 11am today, so I was waiting. Heh. Duh.)

(OOC - I was intending on distracting the leader who was speaking to us while you took "care of business". To the best of my knowledge, that's where I'm at, next to the donkey.)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC and to continue - Alexis, is "grims" a slang word that I would know, or something I've never heard of before?)

Alexis said...

Delfig,

You don't know the word 'grims.' You'll have to ask.

Andrej,

Sorry for the delay. You'll find a map put on the post to describe your placement. The party is outlined in black. I'm sure you can tell the difference between Jan and Emmanuel.

The three peasants are outlined in orange. The road is red brick.

Andrej said...

(OOC: I'm concerned about the possibility of misile fire from the pair hanging back, even though we can't see any weapons, so am about to do something somewhat risky.)

Andrej will cease concentration on the spell, satisfied that our course of action is clear and violence is already upon us. I begin moving toward the pair seated on the grass. As I cross the road, I will recite the Lord's Prayer loud enough for Delfig and Friar Wolfsbane to hear. I will approach the pair (seated on the grass, correct?) and strike the nearest one with my staff.

OOC: I'll await rolling initiative or hit/ dmg since that's a lot to happen and I'm not sure if we'll have surprise or not. Chgowizg, once you hear me reciting the prayer, if you're curious about the "grims" you might want to pose the question quickly :) otherwise, we can inquire at the next town

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Upon hearing the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, I will reach for my lute and pull it towards me. My intent is to cast a Command of "SURRENDER" to the gent next to me.

Alexis said...

Andrej,

As you move towards the other two, they can't help but notice. You look determined, and they don't really understand what's going on with you ... as you cross the road, and begin praying, they both fail their morale checks and break into a run.

Delfig,

The one in front of you falls back a pace or two, surprised when he sees his companions flee. Command being the superfast spell it is to cast, there's no trouble getting it out. The fellow fails his save, falls to his knees, and drops his staff in front of him. Jan quickly snatches it up.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - Excellent!)

Knowing that my spell's duration is negligible...

"Jan, will you keep this one here? If so, I'm going to make sure those others keep running."

Assuming Jan's assent, I will lay my lute back on the donkey and move towards Andrej's position as much as I can the next round.

If Jan doesn't think he can control the one, I'll simply remain there, laying my lute on the donkey and towering over the ruffian, using my bulk as intimidation.

Alexis said...

Jan knocks him on the head, dazing him, and puts a foot on the villein's back. "I have him."

Emmanuel will think ahead of you, meet you before you turn more than a step towards the donkey and take the lute from your hand. He'll hold out your almost-loaded crossbow as he does.

Andrej said...

"Harumph... a pity those two ran off. Is the other still alive?"

Andrej mumbles a quick prayer, makes the sign of the cross and takes a 360-degree look around, checking about us for any possible co-conspirators in hiding.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll take the crossbow from Emmanuel with a suprised smile. "Thank you, good thinking!" Given that, unless Andrej is immediate danger, I'll finish cocking the crossbow the rest of the way and then assist Andrej in scanning the area to see if we'll be ambushed from the trees.

Alexis said...

There appears to be no immediate danger.

Andrej said...

Andrej will approach the friar and the remianing villein. "Father, delfig... do either of you know any prayers or spells for detecting lies? I wish to question our friend here."

In either event, Jan or Delfig knowing or not knowing such a spell, Andrej will ask Emmanuel to fetch something with which to bind the prisoner.

(OOC: If nobody has such as spell, I say we pretend that we do and put some questions to our friend here. Namely, are there any others in league with him about whom we should be concerned? What other dangers may lie on the road ahead? What is a grim?)

Alexis said...

Jan is able to cast augury ... but beyond asking if what the fellow says is the truth, he cannot be certain what questions would be most useful.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

After waiting a few minutes, I'll unload my crossbow and put it to the half loaded position again. I'll hand it back to Emmanuel with a nod and thanks.

I grin at Andrej and grab my lute and look at the villein. I strum the lute and step up so that I'm towering over him with an ominous look.

"Now, I know you and your mates didn't have the stomach for an up-front fight with the likes of us, but I'm hoping that you are a smart enough fellow to realize when you're in a bad spot. So, unless you want me to strum a bit more and put you under a real spell, why don't you tell us if there are any others of your kind and where your camp is. You can also tell us what these 'grims' are."

Alexis said...

"Yes! Yes! Please don't hurt me!" He cries. "It wasn't me, it was the other two. They pushed me into lying to you ... we were supposed to take you four miles up the road, and lead you into an ambush - I wouldn't have done it! But the other two forced me!"

Andrej said...

So if we were to question the villein, Jan could cast augury afterwards to determine whether or not he was lying? I'm guessing that one lie to any question would indicate a lie without further specificity. In any event, Delfig, perhaps we should come up with a few important questions we want to put to him, tell him we'll be using divine power to ascertain the truth of his responses and based on how well he does, decide his fate.

Andrej said...

nevermind, you've got things well in hand :)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - ah, oops? I already started that... how about you tell him that g*d will show you if he's lying or not... I think we need to ask him about this ambush, find out numbers and what the deal is, see if we can avoid the ambush and find out about the grims. Anything else?)

(Word verify "wattlo" - related to "quatloos in that 12.37 wattlos = 1 quatloo)"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Scheisse! Those two will warn the ambush. How many others are in your band? My friend here is a man of the Lord and he can tell if you're lying!"

(OOC - move off the road and forward, or move back? We probably don't have much time if the others are running off...)

Alexis said...

(OOC: Not to get to be too much of a stickler for accuracy, but unless Delfig and Andrej read minds, Delfig can't tell Andrej what things to say without it also being heard by the villein and everyone present. FYI.)

"We are not the ambushers - those are the grims, grimlocks by another name, hillfolk. They wait off the road - we were to lead you there, that we would be 'hunting' them, but they would ambush and let us three live."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - heh. OK.)

"How many?" I growl. "Do you have this arrangement with them often?"

"Jan, do you know anything of these hillfolk that he speaks of?"

Alexis said...

"No, never!" cries out the villein.

"I know what he speaks of," says Emmanuel. "They are humanoids, filthy, uncivilized, stupid creatures. Bigger than us and dwelling in the forest-tops. They couldn't have thought a plan like he's saying."

Andrej said...

Andrej will remian silent, as Delfig ia already doing a fine job in questioning. I will continue to keep a watchful eye all about us.

Alexis, I'd like to make a roll on my field of study to see if I know anything pertinent about the grimlocks.

Alexis said...

Andrej,

Ah, the pains of first level. No, you know nothing about grimlocks, beyond what Emmanuel has just told you.

Alexis said...

Jan begins to cast a spell. Andrej might recognize it as augury, but of course at his level he can't be certain.

Andrej said...

I'll await the outcome of Jan's spell.

Did Emmanuel provide something with which to bind the villein? If so, let us bind him if he's not alreadfy assumed to be.

Andrej said...

P.S. SEARCH and bind him, that is.

Alexis said...

Emmanuel will fetch a rope, as Jan finishes casting his spell (only takes him one round).

(OOC: the augury spell is not perfect. The chances of getting an accurate answer is 70% +2% per level; the balance is in favor of the answer being right, however)

Jan points and asks, "Are this man telling the truth about the ambush?" He waits, and without explaining, says, "Are there more than three of these creatures?" He waits again, "Is this man as innocent as he claims?"

Following the third question, he grabs the man, pulls him away from the road and towards one of the trees (I had failed to mention, when Andrej stepped away from the road, he walked into an open forest; with easy visibility among spaced trees).

"Do you renounce evil and repent, brother?" asks Jan.

Something in Jan's eyes frightens the man, and he nods his head. "Speak, brother," says Jan.

"I repent, Father. Oh god, forgive me, I repent, I repent!"

Jan answers, "You shall find your reward in heaven, my son."

Whereupon he speaks to Emmanuel, quietly. As Delfig and Andrej watch, Emmaneul begins to fashion a noose from the rope.

"There is an ambush waiting. There are not more than three of the creatures. And this man has lived an evil past. He has repented, and he must now be punished so that he might find his better path through Purgatory."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Wait." I say...

"First, he says his companions wanted to force us into an ambush, but then he says they don't do this normally. What was in it for you to lead us into this ambush? Were you promised a reward? Where will your friends flee to?"

Alexis said...

This last was said by Jan to Delfig and Andrej.

Alexis said...

The villein, crying now, answers Delfig, "Yes, we were promised a reward. And I lied, we have done this a dozen times. My friends, my friends will stay and watch, and see me die. I do not know what will become of them."

Andrej said...

Loudly, nearly shouting so that those possibly nearby might hear:

"Open your heart to God's grace, brother. Repent truly now and the death you're offered will be the worst of your pains. You have all of eternity to now consider. May God have mercy upon your soul."

Alexis said...

Jan will ask the man's name, and find that he is named Neil (not to confuse him with the Innkeeper two nights ago).

(OOC: Does anyone have any last questions to ask as Emmanuel finishes the noose and fits it around the man's neck?)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I do not not interfere with Jan's preparations. I ask the man "Give me your name and place of birth that if I can, I shall deliver news of your repentance to your kin."

If/when the man answers, I turn around and speak to the forest - "Know that the Friar does the Lord's work and that you risk the same fate as your companion."

Andrej said...

Andrej will ask him what became of his reward for the dozen previous times and if he has any last wishes.

Alexis said...

Without getting too graphic in the details, Neil will spew out additional sorrows and repentance before Jan and Emmanuel hang him. It becomes clear that Jan will not bury him after he's dead ... that it will be done by a father moving along the road, when the body shows signs, so that the dead carcass will not rise as undead. Jan explains he would wait and bury the body were it not along a public road.

The other bandits do not emerge from the wood.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I wait for Jan and Emmanuel to finish their justice. At an appropriate time, I will say:

"For a public road, it seems very treacherous, considering these grims that now may lie along our path. They also probably know the woods better than we, I doubt we could circle around them. Where were you planning on us staying the night tonight? I believe we should push on down the road as fast as we can to see if we can throw these beasts off."

I will keep the crossbow in my hands.

Andrej said...

Before expiring, did Neil relate anything to me re: my questions?

"If we can spare but 10 minutes I'd like to conduct a brief mass and ask for the Lord's blessing upon us... clearly the road ahead is a trecherous one.) (e.g. cast a Bless)

Andrej said...

OOC: I really enjoyed this whole encounter, start to finish, and not a single die was rolled on our part (not sure how many you rolled, Alexis). I like how it built sort of ominously and exploded with Jan's decisive action... my only regret is that Andrej or Delfig weren't in the position to bring things to a close as Jan did. That's not meant as a criticism, Alexis, nor do I feel along for the ride in any way, shape or form. I guess I'm used to the NPCs being red shirts. Jan is like one of that party without this being about you alone. You're strikning a nice balance. I really enjoyed the entire encounter and continue to enjoy the campaign. Thanks.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - I am also waiting to see if he gave me any info on next of kin.

And yes, this went off bang-bang-bang, much more solidly and quickly than our first encounter in Dachau. Heh.

Jan hasn't taken any choices away from me that seem like he's taking charge. He's doing what he has to do.)

Alexis said...

Neil's answers would have been basically that he was sorry, the money was wasted on ale and prostitutes, etc. He has no money to give you. He pays no attention to the next of kin question, as it doesn't reach him - he probably wouldn't have any, or they would hate him, or he would hate them.

(OOC: Die rolls: a morale check for the two fellows, which they failed, so they ran. A saving throw for Neil, which he failed. A roll-to-hit for Jan, that indicated he did 2 hp damage, stunning Neil. A morale check for Neil, which he failed very badly, so he spilled his guts. Three checks for the augury spell, and a final morale check to see if Neil would willingly confess once he was exposed.

I had Jan hang the fellow because that's how it was done. Identify the criminal, try him by magical means or whatever means fits the moment - throwing in water, that sort of thing - condemn, give a last chance at redemption, then kill before the redeemer has a chance to sin again. It was logical, but also representative.

I'm trying to use Jan to distinguish the fabric of my world, rather than a guide in it. Just as I'm using Emmanuel to show how 'help' can be provided, without it being a burden.

At this point, if you could decide what you would like to do, and Jan giving his opinion only if it is asked for, I'll move onto the next thread).

Andrej said...

(OOC: Excellent. I hope my last post didn't come off like a back-handed compliment or passive-aggressive in any way. I really was just trying to express my like for how things went off. Jan did what he did because that's how things naturally unfolded and from my perspective I wouldn't want you as the DM to do any differently, nor am trying to subtly suggest such. Your use of Jan has so far been perfect... Sorry. Text only, you couldn't see how clearly pleased I was with the encounter and I can't tell now how you took them)

Andrej will let the suggestion hang out there that he take the 10 minutes to cast bless on the party. Delfig, if you think we should just hustle out of here I'm OK with that as well.

Alexis said...

(OOC: On the contrary, I took your post as a gracious approval of my behavior. It is my text that is misunderstood. I like that I made those rolls invisibly, and I thought it might be interesting to go over them. Absolutely no reproval intended.

I'm very moved by both of you regarding your compliments. I thank you, I simply am overwhelmed. I shall endeavor to continue to do as well)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(Please keep doing what you do, it was an experience to feel some righteous agreement for the deserved judgement that Jan gave Neil.)

I agree with Andrej's plan to bring the blessings of the Lord upon us, but I also think we should move quickly down the road. Haste and bold movement may carry us through the grims if they are expecting us to be ill-prepared.

Andrej said...

In that case, let us quickly conduct a prayer service so that I might bless the party and lets move on down the road. (OOC: Alexis, in your game will Andrej also enjoy the benefits of the blessing? Also, looking over the spell description in the excerpt from Alexis's Player's Handbook I see that only memebers of my religion may be belssed. I think Jan and Emmanuel are covered... Delfig though?)

Alexis said...

(OOC: Delfig hasn't claimed any specific religion, and is therefore covered by the bless for as long as he remains neutral. It might be a problem if there was more than one religion in the party - he would have to specify)

I will continue this on the next post.