Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eichstatt

Saturday, June 14, 1650.  Noon.

Eichstatt proves to be an unusual town - to begin with, there is no town wall. And yet there are many beautiful buildings, a huge cathedral upon a large square (the Domplatz), and several stone buildings which represent a university, a hundred years old. The streets are full of young men carrying books, with many priests and - Andrej will take note - deacons who serve as professors of the university.

There seem to be no streets featuring the usual collection of artisans. There is a town market, selling those things which may be found under that heading on an equipment list (if you wish to buy something, let me know and I’ll generate a list this evening). Rather, there are many dorms or abbeys, which themselves have kitchens, where more than nine tenths of the town eats - both student and priesthood alike.

There appear also to be as many as six sizable libraries, and many small booksellers - as the party moves through the streets, the sound of working printing presses can be heard.

Two principal roads lead from Eichstatt - one that goes north, and one that travels to the east.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nowhere

Friday or Saturday, June 13 or 14, 1650

Delfig awakes, uncertain as to where he is.

To begin with, he has been stripped of most of his clothing. He has a shirt, and a loin cloth, and breeches. Nothing else. His feet are bare.

All is utter darkness. He can feel stone under his hands and against his knees. The blindness is disconcerting, as he literally cannot see his hand in front of his face. But after some minutes, he begins to perceive that the there a very narrow band of light that can be identified on his right ... he moves towards it, and finds that it is the slit under a door - he can feel the wood on this fingers, and can feel the depth of the slit. It is nothing more than a quarter of an inch. He presses his face to the floor, and cannot make his eye close enough to the floor to see through the slit. The very dim light seems steady, but he can tell nothing more about it.

An examination of the door first reveals that there is no doorknob, on either the left side of the wooden slab or the right. But after a time, Delfig finds a wooden flap, which he can lift - peering through it, he can see a gently lit hall, about ten feet long, reaching away from the door. He can see no other doors in the hall, nor any torches ... but clearly the light he sees comes from torchlight, from somewhere beyond his sight. The light of the hall is no more than one might find in a dark room on a moonless night - for the walls are not yellowed with light, but blue-black. Just enough that he can make out the shape of the hall, and its features - but nothing else.

He might call out, but no one comes. And when he surrenders the flap, and looks around him again, he will find his eyes have adjusted somewhat, to the degree that the cell he is in - for it is a cell, about 8 feet by 6 - is lit almost as well as the hall outside. The source of this light proves not only to be the door, but also an opening in the ceiling - unobserved previously. This opening is about six inches square, and by looking up through it, Delfig can see a hint of light, a reflection at best, that might be natural, although he cannot see the sky.

Delfig has nothing, nothing at all, except his clothes.

The Rough Road West

Friday, June 13, 1650

It is evening, as the sun sets, as I write this.

The west bound road continues in a generally westward direction, following the ridge over the Altmuhl Valley - which is to say that you cross many rivulets and streams, and that the road itself rolls up and down over spurs along the ridge, in a most taxing manner. The road itself is not a good one, and there are no road signs. The watercourses are too small to bar the way of the wagon, but at the same time there are no constructed bridges along the way. Every crossing is a ford, and many of them are knee-deep (and the water quite cold, despite the month - not icy, but you wouldn’t want to bathe in it). Finally, the road is full of potholes and in some places, the trees hang down and impede the carriage (a cart would go through fine, but the carriage is often too wide or too high).

You see no one else through the journey, though you travel for a day and a half.

The countryside is rough, unoccupied, but just this side of wilderland - in that there is a road, and the road is clearly travelled from time to time, as you find evidence of firepits and places where trees have been cut down with an axe. Thursday night you bed down by one of these firepits.

As the sun sets, you reach a much better road, which is cobbled and which is perpendicular to the road you are on. But what with the winding that you have experienced throughout the day, you cannot be sure if this road does go both north and south. The right, however, does appear to rise into the highlands to the north, while the south road descends into the main valley.

In the east, you see a full moon rise in the twilight, as the sun sets in the west.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Rules for Subdual

With the addition of this post, I want to explain that I am phasing out 'subdual' attack ... I've never particularly liked it as a combat solution.  Basically, since reducing an enemy's hit points has never meant actually causing physical 'harm' to an opponent, it has always bugged me that "using the flat of the sword" was the avoidance of causing real harm when normal attacking didn't cause real harm.

It seemed equally dumb that subdual damage was 1/10th of normal, but was still treated as full damage in terms of the actual combat ... the Gygaxian solution to not having to kill your opponent, while using the same, unchanged system.

Never worked for me.

So from now on, there's no such thing as 'subdual damage.'

The system will be this:  if you don't want to cause a lot of damage, don't use your weapon, use your fist.  If you want to pull down your opponent without killing him, grapple him.  If you don't want to use your fist and you don't want to grapple, but you insist on using your weapon, well - I can't help you. Either use a smaller weapon or stop using it altogether.

For any leveled person, you can pretty much count on dropping that person into the negatives with your weapon and then easily grappling and or punching him unconscious.  For any other creature, I am instituting a policy that they will still live, but can take no action whatsoever, if reduced to -4 to 0 hit points.

Good luck.

Dachau's Rathaus

Friday, June 13, 1650

Whether Delfig intends to turn himself in upon arriving in Ingolstadt, or to wait until he reaches Dachau, the result is the same.  He will find himself standing between four guards at Dachau's North Gate.  Here he will learn that earlier the day before, another bard was found travelling north from Ingolstadt, who was brought to Dachau only three hours ago.  Upon determining definitely that this other bard was not Delfig, the bard was let go - but this is the reason why the guards who were at the Regensburg-Nuremburg crossroads suddenly disappeared.

Delfig will be brought to the Rathaus, and there he will be watched most closely, as he waits.  He is informed that the burghermeister - The Patrician Eduard Johannsen, he that was recently elected - wishes to speak with Delfig, most earnestly.  That there has been, as far as the guard knows, no crime committed ... but then, it is possible that the burghermeister could yet bring a charge - that would be within the meister's rights.

It is in the foyer of the Rathaus, in seeing a rather intricate representation of the yearly calendar, that Delfig realizes it is Friday 13th.

Robur's House

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Bringing the carriage back to the house, the party finds an area of soft loam a fair distance from the building, overlooking a small creek. The road, previously unmentioned, continues on, passing over the creek on a flat wooden bridge.

There is little else to say.  The party should take care to manage all the details for whatever they wish to do here, and then indicate where they will go next.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Road North of Ingolstadt

Thursday, June 12, 1650

There being little reason to describe again the landscape, I will say simply that Avel and Andrej have reached again the place where the overgrown road connects with the main road from Ingolstadt, via carriage.  It is getting later in the afternoon.

From where they are, it is possible to see Delfig, half a mile in the distance, making his way up the hill away to the left (heading north).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ossa

Sunday, June 8, 1650

This being Sunday, there are no Greeks upon the road, and the party makes good time towards Ossa; the road north winds around the south edge of the mountain, and by the time the party must stop for the heat of the afternoon they have reached the village. It is very little to speak of, much like the other villages I’ve mentioned - these are not towns, merely little settlements.

Looking up, it is possible to see that Mt. Ossa still has a bit of snow on it, at the very top. The village of Ossa is quiet, the residents inside and waiting for sunset (the end of sabbath) - there are no moslem villagers. There’s no one to ask for directions, but there is a road past Ossa, and a small sign that says ‘Spilia’.

Not long after the party stops for the heat, they hear the body of soldiers moving along the road towards Ossa - the sound of armor and feet approaching. The soldiers will catch up to the party quite soon, and will march through Ossa, on their way to Spilia. An exact count indicates there are thirty-four of them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mid-Afternoon, Above the Altmuhl Valley

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Not too long after turning down the new road, the party will find that it drifts to the west and towards the south, and that the elevation gained in travelling north from Ingolstadt threatens to be quickly lost, as it is evident that this road promises to descend into the Altmuhl Valley ... several glimpses of this valley are gained in just two miles of travel.

But it is two miles from the Ingolstadt-Nuremberg road that the party stumbles across the disturbing scene.

The first sight is not wholly informative; where the road takes a dip and turns to the left, about twenty yards beyond - below a stout apple tree, and partly concealed by it - the party can see the torn body of a horse.  It appears to be quite dead.  Just beyond, there is a body hung over a fence stile, on its side and facing away from the party.  The body is covered with blood, but there is something familiar about it.

Now, it should be understood that all is relative silence.  There are a few birds, and a gentle wind, but no indication at all that anything has happened, except for this awful sight.

Near Sunset, Namata Crossroads

Saturday, June 7, 1650


The party knows well enough to leave very early in the day, before the sun rises. To travel to Mt. Ossa, the party must first travel west, along the road to Larisa, for this road passes through a deep pass that leads from Golos to the plain of Larisa. The road is heavily travelled ... this is one of the principal routes into the heart of Greece, moving traffic towards Trikkala and Epirus. Upon emerging from the pass, the plain is spread out below - the plain beyond is huge, twenty miles in diameter, and is a rich, flat cultivated plain full of orchards, vinyards and pastures. The land is thoroughly irrigated, and heavily populated ... it is possible to see a hundred peasants at a time, nearby, cutting branches, tying vines in the fields or scything out the undergrowth beneath pear and plum trees.

To the east you can see a long ridge extending north and west from Mt. Pilion, which is behind you and to the right. Two little mountains, the names of which you don’t know, rise on your left, to the west. Mt. Ossa is ahead, in the distance, looking quite magnificent. Following the Thessaly road for another ten miles, you turn at the sign that directs you to Mt. Ossa, and through the small village of Melissa. In Melissa the party must stop, and siesta for several hours ... it is just too hot to travel. By four in the afternoon, the sun has moved well past the zenith and the party can advance forward.

Beyond Melissa, the road leads to another village named Namata - where there is a wide irrigation ditch, thirty feet across - and a crossroads, from Larisa to the east, leading through the gap between the aforementioned ridge and Mt. Ossa ... which is now much larger. The immensity of the mountain is stunning - six thousand feet above the party, a huge disc like a shield, ten miles across.

Upon the crossroads there are thirty soldiers, laying about, resting ... apparently waiting for orders. They are gathered together in groups of two to four, eating fruit, cleaning their weapons or their clothing, chatting or sleeping ... there are none sparring. This is now quite late, and the sun will set within ten or twenty minutes - it is quite hot.

What actions might Nasira and Symeon take?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Midday, Golos

Friday, June 6, 1650

Symeon and Nasira return to Golos, arriving there about midday.  Naturally, Symeon will look towards his trusted sailor (whose name, I believe, hasn't been set yet), to find if there has been any news.  There hasn't been; a new ship has come into the harbour from Chalkis, and is unloading, but there are no special tales about it ... it is carrying dates and almonds.  The small Turkish resident force in Golos has broken up a wedding, and there have been some harsh words - threats and the like.  But little else.

The sailor, whatever his name is, asks permission to take the boat out during the day, to fish.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Noon, North of Ingolstadt

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Making your way along the road to Nuremburg, about three hours north of Ingolstadt a group of four men, in the livery of soldiers of Upper Bavaria, mounted, appear behind you upon the road.  They are thundering their way along, moving very quickly.  Naturally there is some concern ... which passes quickly when the four men, without so much as a glance, ride around the carriage on both the left and the right and continue down the road.  The party sees them climb a slope to the top, and then drop down and out of sight.

Some sense of relief comes over the party, but at this time I find that I must stop and gather reactions.

Past Midnight, Near Zagora

Friday, June 6, 1650

The olive grove where the party had laid down is not far from the sea (the mountain comes to the sea, so nowhere to either the north or south of Zagora is far from the sea).  A distant sound first, unrecognizable, but after quite a few minutes, more and more familiar, particularly to Nasira.  It is the sound of oars, and it is moving closer.  It will awake both of you, and bring you to the edge of a low rise, to where you can look down at the beach.

The galley is perhaps eighty feet in length, and manned by twenty rowers; they are bringing the boat towards the narrow shore, where the sand is no more than a dozen yards wide.

Then, to the party's left, the sound of others moving down the slope, a fair distance away, too far to hear their voices clearly, just enough to know that they are there.  You would guess four, perhaps five, not necessarily all men.  After watching for several minutes, you see them come onto the beach - four men and a woman - just prior to the galley getting there.  Those on shore and those on the boat wave to one another.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Road North to Ingolstadt

Wednesday, June 11, 1650

The journey to Ingolstadt is relatively uneventful. Upon leaving the North Gate of Dachau, Delfig takes note that the gutted gatehouse, which he has not seen in more than a month, is filled with activity, the interior cleaned out, a pile of burnt refuse stacked nearby, laborers with brushes cleaning the stone, fresh wood piled nearby, several saw pits and the sounds of hammering. Apparently, steps are being taken to make the gatehouse more defensible, and the outlay for a tower has been started next to it.


It is mostly downhill to Ingolstadt, forcing the horses to take it slowly. The countryside is gently hilly, with thick forests broken by places where the land has been tilled. There are numbers of pig herders - quite a few in fact, and the road is consistently busy. You may speak to a few passersby, but these are farmers, or peddlars, and no one of note.

The bridge across the Danube and into Ingolstadt is immense, with a center built of wood, and large enough to allow a 20’ wide barge to pass beneath it. Three wagons could easily pass side by side. Ingolstadt is, naturally, a wall town - and to cross the bridge, you will have to pay the normal town fee (there is no other way to cross the Danube at this point.

You hear tell that Ingolstadt was the first city to hold back the Swedes during the Great 30 Years War.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zagora, Aegean Coast

Thursday, June 5, 1650

As Symeon comes to the outskirts of the small village, not but perhaps 80 persons who depend almost wholly upon fishing for their survival, he cannot help notice that there is one woman who is quite out of place. The town is quite typically Greek - it is evening, and there are no women on the street at all.  A few late fishermen, who have pulled their boats up, are moving up the steep paths to their homes - but this woman is going nowhere.  She seems to be doing nothing but closely watching Symeon ... as though there is something interesting that she sees.

More than that, she is not a Christian - her niqab, caftan and hijab (deeply colored purple) identify her strongly as a muslim.  Symeon's natural ability to identify characteristics about people strongly suggests that she is not Greek, perhaps not even human.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The End of Delfig's Work, Dachau

Tuesday, June 10, 1650

Please take note of the date.  This is the day I calculate that Delfig is able to complete his work, and so the party will need to assess their food consumption for this period.  Note that you are relaxing, and not travelling or adventuring, and the food consumption can be as little as 1 lb. per day; you might want to pay your inn bill, also.
To my knowledge, the actual itinerary of the party's intentions is not yet known.  However, on Monday, you are contacted by an agent of Hornung - his name, he says, is Reynart.  He is diminuative, perhaps 5'4" in height, and seems to suffer from the cold, although it is a fairly warm day when he comes to see you.  He wears an expensive black linen and wool doublet, with a gold crest on the shoulder that you must recognize by now as Hornung's; he carries a leather pouch, from which he draws forth a map, two keys and ten g.p. for travel expenses - and to hire a guide if need be - if it is your interest to travel to Calenburg.

He will say that Hornung is fully aware of the crime taken against Jan, and has dispatched a fellow of his acquaintence to Bern to follow that trail ... Jan being a friend of his, and Hornung not wanting the murder to go unavenged.

What answer does the party have for Reynart?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduction, Golos

Thursday, June 5, 1650

The view is that of the Pagasetic Gulf, looking away from the market town of Golos towards the opposite side of the bay, with Mt. Pelion behind and stretching away to the left, to form the hook peninsula that encloses the Gulf.  Symeon Kokolas knows from growing up near here, in the town of Alos, that the peninsula and its heights are occupied by groupings of centaurs, who are standoffish but friendly to the folk on the shore.

The region is known as Magnesia, a part of Thessaly, and is under the thrall of the Ottoman Turks, who have now ruled here for almost two centuries.  It is a difficult country for Greeks who choose to remain Christian; heavy taxes are levied against them, and many rights are denied them.  Magnesia has been thoroughly subjugated ... the country gives no hint of rebellion, though there is dissastisfaction.  The people are cowed, accepting of their condition, submissive to their foreign overlords.

Earthquakes are common to the region, and light winter rains ... though Golos is a supremely sheltered harbor, and is exempt to the tsunamis that strike other parts of Greece during the winter months.  This being June, that temperature has climbed into full summer, with temperatures mildly uncomfortable most days, and the dry season has begun (except for fogs drifting from the sea or down from the mountains on some mornings, the will probably be no rain until September).