Monday, January 11, 2010

Past Midnight, Rushing South to Bern

Tuesday, May 20, 1650


The carriage flies at a dangerous speed over the road south from Langenthal towards Bern, driven by the master guardsman Hengist. The carriage has four seats and is remarkably plush - the Prefect risks losing an investment if the carriage overturns and is broken, but Hengist drives without much concern for the Prefect's pocketbook. Beside him is Wenzel, holding on for dear life, and Andrej and Delfig in the back two seats. Both characters are exhausted. 'Forced march' rules are in effect, as they have been steadily moving and acting for more than 14 hours now.

Wenzel calls out the road markers as the carriage passes - it is too dark to see them, but Wenzel knows them by sight. It is ten miles to Burgdorf, and another fifteen after that to Bern; a few rough calculations suggests that if the carriage left Langenthal at about 3 p.m., and travelled at four miles per hour, it should have reached Bern at 9 p.m., just as the Prefect suggested. Possibly later, if there were delays. Delfig and Andrej have left Langenthal at 9:45 p.m., and are making between five and six miles an hour. At midnight, Burgdorf is a mile back of you.

It is the night of the new moon (the exact night, as it happens), and the land is pitch black to your eyes. Hengist calls out that he knows the road less well south of Burgdorf, and that in the darkness he must slow somewhat. The night turns colder with the wee hours, and chills the bones of the carriage riders; it is worse for Andrej and Delfig, who are so tired. Despite the rolling and bouncing of the carriage, neither party member can help lolling into sleep, only to be awakened abruptly by a sharp turn, or a stone in the road.

There has been no clock to tell the time since the one atop Burgdorf Hall, and the long night seems to go on and on. Only the markers, still called out by Wenzel, give any sense of the hour. It might be three or four in the morning as you pass the fourth mile marker from Bern - when suddenly Hengist pulls hard on the reins, and brings the carriage to a difficult and abrupt stop. The party are thrown from their seats to the floor; Wenzel, more awake, was able to brace himself.

"We've passed something," explains Hengist. "Something big, laying at the side of the road." He does not want to turn about the horses, and suggests that the three besides himself walk back to investigate.

81 comments:

Andrej said...

I shall lead, as I can see in the darkness. I suggest to delfig that he or the other guard light a torch for themselves and await for them to do so. I have my staff at the ready and willl await Delfig and Wenzel at the side of the carriage. I'm peering back behind us to see what I can see from here. Also, to Hengist "What can you tell me of this thing aside from its size? What side of the road was it on?"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I (still) do not have anything to light a torch with. I will draw my sword and wait by the carriage for Andrej's signal, as well as for my eyes to adjust to darkness.

Andrej said...

(OOC: PS - is Emmanuel with us? I assumed we were gathering up our things as well as Emmanuel before setting out. )

Alexis said...

Emmanuel is not with you; arrangements have been made for him, and the balance of your supplies, to be brought to Bern by noon Tuesday (escorted).

Wenzel has means of lighting a torch, and does so. Hengist estimates it is about 100 paces back, on the right side of the road. It was not something that was moving, or anything that seemed dangerous. Without moonlight, he could only glimpse for a moment that it seemed to be partly on the road, and that he had barely missed it as he drove by.

The torch spoils Andrej's infravision, of course; upon lighting it, the road back can be seen clearly for about 30 paces.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll follow Andrej, 15 feet behind him, listening carefully and looking around as best I can to see what I can see.

Alexis said...

(OOC: If not for the new moon, this would have been easy; I find it remarkably inconvenient that in actual fact, May 20, 1650 was the very night of the new moon)

Wenzel will not hesitate as torchbearer - he will move quickly down the road, apparently fearless.

It will only be a half minute before its revealed that the thing Hengist saw was a carriage, mostly off the road, its right front wheel broken against a large aspen tree.

Andrej said...

Is it the carriage we rode in on this morning?

Alexis said...

Upon coming closer, it does seem to be.

Andrej said...

I recommend Wenzel to stand close with the torch, but keep his attention on the area around us while Delfig and I invesitgate the actual carriage, exercising caution and thoroughness so as not to miss or trample some clue or sign of what may have happened to the occupants.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

With a dreadful feeling, I will carefully look inside the carriage.

Alexis said...

It is damn near impossible to see inside the carriage, without actually thrusting the torch inside. It does seem to Delfig, however, that the interior is empty. The ground all about is empty also. The horses are missing, and a quick investigation will show that the traces were cut by a knife.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll ask Wenzel to give me his torch and I'll look inside through the window.

Alexis said...

The interior is indeed empty; however, the floor, and much of the interior on one side, and not the other, is covered in blood.

Andrej said...

I'll let Dlefig search the carriage and the immediate area about it. I'd like to get beyond the range of the torch and see if a change of perspective (i.e. utilizing infravision) provides any clues. I'll pay special attention to the ground nearby and look for any trails or footpaths leading off into the woods.

Alexis said...

There's very little in the way of 'woods' here; a copse here and there, mostly along the side of the road, and beyond heavily cultivated land.

As Andrej is about to withdraw, however, he, Delfig and Wenzel will all hear a definite snuffling sound, as of something alive, across the road from the carriage.

Andrej said...

Let us proceed crefully toward sound. Fan out, 5' between us, with Wenzel in the middle and bearing the torch. Delfig, you agree?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I nod silently and hold the torch in one hand and my sword in the other and proceed in a line with Andrej across the road towards the sound.

Alexis said...

Wenzel concurs with Andrej's plan; across the road, there is a gulley six feet deep and ten feet wide, overgrown with scrub and grass - not enough to hide the source of the noise, however. It appears to be a warthog, which is licking the blood from an exposed leg. The remainder of the body is concealed in the brush.

Andrej said...

Let us scare the thing (warthog) off, then. We should all make a great deal of noise (yelling, banging and stomping, etc...). Then I'll go down into the gully to retrieve the body. Agreed?

Alexis said...

Point of order: due to the aforementioned exhaustion, both characters are reduced to 70% of their stat abilities (ie., a 15 normally would adjust to a 10.5). No additional penalties are incurred, unless strength, constitution or dexterity are reduced to 7 or less, when normal modifiers would be applicable. Obviously, any positive modifiers will be lost, as even an 18 would be reduced to 12.6

Alexis said...

(OOC: At this point, I really have to apologize. I have a critical interview in about an hour, to be done by conference call, and I have to get my head in the right space. I'll answer any quick questions, but a combat right now would be out of the question)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC, I was hoping to avoid combat by tossing the torch at the warthog and scaring it. If combat seems a certainty, I'm OK pausing till tomorrow.)

Alexis said...

I find it unlikely that the warthog would back off; it is feeding, it's blood would be up ... the creatures are notoriously vicious and tending towards instinctive violence.

I'd have to argue that given the season, the grass wouldn't be dry enough to light if you did throw a torch, but I would have to roll a chance for it nonetheless. I haven't described any rain since you've been in Switzerland.

Andrej said...

I was also hoping to avoid combat, but would stop Delfig short of tossing the lit torch into the gully. If we can't scare it off ourselves let's prepare to fight it andpick up tomorrow.

Best of luck Alexis, I hope all goes well for you.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC: I'm in agreement with Andrej, then - we'll pick this up tomorrow. Good luck with your concall.)

Alexis said...

Obviously, if you wish to avoid combat, the simplest method would be to not enter the gully, and to leave the boar alone.

Andrej said...

Very true, but I'm curious to see who's body is down there and I assume Delfig is likewise curious. Since we're interrupting dinner, I'm guessing combat is inevitable unless we wait for the boar to finish dining... which doesn't strike me as a viable option given our urgency. So... should we roll initiative?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(Yes. However, I don't think that's likely. It seems that time may be of the essence here.)

I'd like to get another torch lit. I'd like to climb up a nearby tree that would give me a view of the body from above, then toss a torch down so I have better light on the body.

Alexis said...

None of the trees around are suitable for climbing, and the nearest one would be that the carriage smashed into, across the road. It wouldn't give a better view of the body, as it's covered with brambles, not merely blocked by Delfig's angle of view.

Andrej is on record as stopping Delfig from tossing a torch down, so I need that sorted out.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'm not tossing the torch. Do the guardsmen have crossbows or some other missile weapon?

Alexis said...

The guardsmen do not. Wenzel is calling over Hengist, who will abandon the carriage to come help.

Can't roll initiative as long as the combatants are standing on the road, on the lip of the gully - you must drop down first (indicating on which side and how far from the warthog), there still being a chance of surprising the beast. It is about eight feet below you, and about ten feet ahead. You couldn't quite jump onto its back, but a single leap would drop you within combat range (assuming you didn't hurt yourself in the process).

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'd like one of the guards to stay with the carriage. I don't trust Herieux. I'll get my crossbow and fully cock it and shoot at the animal when everyone is ready to deal with a possible charging warthog.

Andrej said...

I'm ready. Fire away.

Alexis said...

(Ah, interesting. Very unlikely that Herieux could be following you - you've travelled too fast for him to follow on foot, and the dark of the night would preclude riding a horse off road. He'd have broken his neck miles back. Riding a horse on the road, or another carriage, would have been heard by the party at those points when Hengist needed to stop and get his bearings - which would have happened every mile or so)

Neither guard pays any attention to Delfig's urging to stay with the carriage, primarily because they're guards and not underlings.

The guards intend dropping carefully down onto the left side of the warthog, to about ten feet from it, then closing. We'll need to hear from Andrej at this point.

Alexis said...

Andrej, are you dropping into the gully?

Andrej said...

Not at all. My hope was that Delfig could finish the job from up here. I recommend to the guards that they do the same as me and await the results of Delfig's crossbow work from up here. They, not being underlings though, are free to put themselves into whatever danger they deem necessary. I'll stand by Delfig, staff ready in the event the creature finds some way to reach him. If things go badly below, I might leap down later unless it seems fruitless to do so.

Alexis said...

The guards don't believe that Delfig will 'finish the job' - but they want the opportunity to hit the warthog at the point when Delfig stuns it.

Sooooo ... if Delfig is willing, he can fire the crossbow at the point where the two guards drop, with several short bounds, to the bottom of the gulley.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I shall do so, I'll fire at the warthog when the guards are ready. d20?

Alexis said...

d20.

Alexis said...

Is that a light crossbow? Wooden or metal bolt?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

d20: 16

It's the heavy crossbow that I took from the Wall/Tower fight.

(I think that's the best roll I've gotten since the Wall/Tower fight. I'm praying it's good enough.)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

The bolts are those I took from the Tower as well. I have them as simply bolts, I don't recall if you gave me wood or metal as the construction. What will you rule they be?

Alexis said...

Sorry to get pedantic; seems to be the operating principle today. Are you proficient with that crossbow? Is it one of the two proficiencies you started with as a thief?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

My proficiency was listed simply as crossbow. I will have to go back and reference the discussion we had earlier about this... I believe you were allowing me to use the heavy. Let me do a quick search, please.

If not, my original purchase was a light crossbow. I would not have continued to use the heavy with proficiency penalties.

Alexis said...

No, no problem. It is just that it's been months between discussions about these things, and I can never remember. You hit AC 5. Please do 2d6 damage.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Grusse Gott!" I exclaim in happiness. It's been awhile since I managed to hit something with this thing.

2d6: 4

(OOC: An advantage to our play by post - Google "site:" search made it easy to find our discussion. A point in favor of this type of play...)

Alexis said...

The boar is stunned. Both guards rush forward, using short swords. Hengist misses, while Wenzel hits, causing 4 more damage. The boar squeals and falls back from the body, hurting and swinging its head to no avail.

The party has 1 round to act.

(Point in fact - if Delfig doesn't want to drop down or cast spells, he might consider playing martial strains on his instrument, which will take a round to get ready)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Awesome! I will indeed try that, dropping the heavy crossbow and getting my lute out and ready to play a martial tune the subsequent round. (Thank you for reminding me of that!)

Andrej said...

Is there room and is it feasible to leap down into the gully on the side of the boar opposite the guards?

Alexis said...

Yes. There is room behind the boar.

Andrej said...

Andrej will drop down into the gully and behind the boar on his next action.

Alexis said...

Hengist and Wenzel press their attack as Andrej scrambles down the slope and Delfig readies his instrument. Both guardmen miss.

The boar recovers, though clearly in much pain, and greatly angered. It turns on Wenzel, striking him twice, once for 7 and once for 4 damage. The first blow tears away a chunk of Wenzel's shin, and the second scores Wenzel's thigh as he drops in agony.

The new round begins, and Hengist attempts to strike again (his dexterity is higher than Andrej at this point). Hengist misses (although at this point he has Delfig's bonus to help him).

Andrej can attack - he is +1 to hit and damage with Delfig's aid.

Andrej said...

Andrej rolls a 10

(minus the penalties (70%) and plus Delfig's aid)

Alexis said...

Strength (70% of 17), should be 11.9. Shouldn't be any penalties on the die roll.

The warthog is going to turn on Andrej now; it is covered in its own blood, which has profused from his side where Delfig shot it, and where it was struck by Wenzel. It hits AC 1, and causes 4 damage to Andrej.

At that point, the animal expires - it was going on pure adrenaline, fighting after it was already dead.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Hoorah! I will get down into the gully to provide first aid to Wengel.

Alexis said...

X.P.

Delfig: 115.
Andrej: 155.

Andrej gets the benefit of putting his body in front of the warthog's tusks.

Alexis said...

(OOC: I'm curious. How much experience do either of you have?)

Andrej said...

(OOC: To clarify, I understood the 70% rule and should have written "lack of to hit adjustment", with no strength bonus, instead of penalty.)

"Anybody for roast pork?"

I will first see to Wenzel, healing him 8 hit points. Then check to see whose body we've found.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

My Charsheet: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcmsh84t_155f93925nt

I have 893 XP.

Once I'm done providing first aid, I'll go check the body to see whose it is.

Alexis said...

The body is not Jan.

You don't know who's body it is. Appears to be a peasant, stripped of everything except shirt and loin cloth.

Andrej said...

(OOC: That depends. If I'm supposed to have been giving myself the XP bonus for a high prime requisite, then 613 as of just prior to this combat and the 4 points of damage I took. If not... I'll go back and recalculate.

Andrej said...

Hmmm... I assume the body is also not Carlo, then? We do not recognize the ostensible peasant?

Alexis said...

I'm not giving the 10%, so I assume you are. Both players get it. With the 10% bonus, the additions are 127 for Delfig and 171 for Andrej.

If Delfig hasn't been adding at all, obviously he needs to do so; Andrej can recalculate as necessary.

Alexis said...

No, no recognition at all. Total stranger.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

How was he killed? Does it look like his body was dragged here?

I'll take the torch and do a circle around the general area of the wagon, say about a 15 yard radius from the wagon.

Andrej said...

(OOC: I've been calculating all along, but forgot whether or not I was supposed to be and kept forgetting to bring it up. 127 added to my current total brings me up to 784. Would you mind explaining again how the XP is awarded and divvied up?)

Alexis said...

He was killed by some sort of small blade in his back.

Delfig finds nothing else of note during his search.

The system as it stands is as follows:

10 x.p. for every point of damage caused.
20 x.p. for every point of damage suffered.

Total damage against the party is then added together, multiplied by 20 and divided equally among all leveled persons involved in the combat (divided by two for henchmen.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Any hoof prints leading in any direction?

I'll go back to the carriage and look to see if it was looted of Jan's baggage. I'll also take a look at the door before opening it (paranoid).

"Andrej, we have two choices. It's clear that we are too late for whatever happened. We can wait here for morning and see if we can find any sign of who did this... or we can continue on. I wonder if what we're seeing here is a robbery - a strange peasant, blood and no horses."

Andrej said...

(OOC: Thank you for the explanation)

We are vexed with a mystery, then, Delfig. There lies the carriage we seek with no sign of Jan, Herieux's sister or Carlo... here before us is a murder victim whom we do not know. I admit, I am at a loss. Any ideas?

Alexis said...

No prints that a bard can identify.

The carriage is bare of anything except the carriage. Paranoia aside, there's nothing here that threatens.

I'd like to point out that you are both really tired. Wenzel's damage is dismissible, with Andrej's help (has Andrej really not used his spell any time since Olten?), but the guards are loathe to go on, given the circumstances.

Hengist will say, "They may be safe in Bern, they may be dead ... best to wait for light."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"There is nothing here that we can see now. If the guards are willing, let us back up the Prefect's carriage to here and sleep a few hours. Then we can examine the scene in the light and figure out where we'll go next."

I thank Wenzel and Hengist profusely for their bravery.

Andrej said...

As best as I can recall, the last use of the spell was for Jan, the morning after the attack of the white stag.

Andrej said...

If somebody has a rope, let's truss the warthog up on the tree the carriage crashed into prior to retiring. I say we haul to town and eithe reat or sell it when we get there.

Alexis said...

As Wenzel limps back to the carriage, to rest, Hengist will take Andrej's suggestion to heart. Quite expertly, he will cut open the boar, clean it, and remove a goodly portion of its meat. He has no means to brush off the skin or even to prepare the skin for removal, so a lot of meat will go to waste; but there is enough for the party to have a good meal.

Wenzel has a tinderbox, so that Delfig and Andrej can light a fire, before collapsing into sleep themselves. There's some question as to whether they'd wake up to eat, even with haunch of boar gently roasting over the fire (Wenzel and Hengist are third watch guardsmen, so this is their normal waking hour). As dawn breaks, some four hours later, they might wake and take benefit of the meat, still warm.

Alexis said...

(Great minds thinking alike)

We'll pick up the next post tomorrow; this was a good long session today, I thought. Any last questions, post them here.

Andrej said...

I'll wake to enjoy some warm pork, but must continue to rest another four hours (if the party is willing), in order to pray again for spells. Would this give the two guardsmen an opportunity to briefly rest themselves, assuming Delfig is up and about?

Alexis said...

At the point where you would want to go back to sleep, down the road will come Emmanuel leading a donkey, and two other guardsmen; they have walked all night, with one brief rest, to get here. That's where we'll pick up.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Agreed. Fun session.)

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'm good with resting and then eating. I too will need to relearn my spells for the day. Yes, a very fun series of events, thank you!

Alexis said...

(OOC: Check your private email addresses)

Andrej said...

(OOC: Checked. Nothing that I hadn't already read and responded to...)