Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Falfysson's Advice

Falfysson gives his minks commands to "Fault!" and to "Cut!" - whereupon the minks cease to snarl and hiss at the party.

With the minks and Falfysson leading the way, the party following behind, and the dwarves (a little concerned about the trustworthiness of this new "ally") taking up the rear, complacent and expressing themselves in no more than long looks of doubt, pass through the door at the top of the hall.

This door opens directly into a mostly verticle cavern, filled with magnificent stalactites, many of them 20 foot spears, no more than six to eight inches wide, draping from the ceiling.  The magnificent space is like the third part of a corkscrew - turning 120 degrees as it ascends up at least 300 feet - it is perhaps, at its widest, 100 feet in diameter.  There is a great bonfire burning some 50 feet horizontally, and 40 feet vertically, up and above you.  This fire lights the whole cavern.

A path follows the left side wall from the door, ten feet wide.  You might guess the path leads to the fire, but you cannot see all of its route.  The path does, right by the door where you enter, overlook a deep, black hole on the party's right, 30 feet across.  Falfysson releases his minks, and both plunge into the blackness - the splash of water proves that the hole is a well.  Upon closer examination you can barely detect a surface some twelve, perhaps fifteen feet down.  This well is the bottom of the cavern; there are no flat surfaces except for the path and the platform above you where the fire is.  All else is the verticle walls of the cavern, sloped anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees, the latter particularly true of the heights at the very top.

Above and beyond the fire, you can perceive some 20 feet of stairwell that winds along the wall, nearly 200 feet up the side of the cavern.  It has a sheer drop of 90 feet, onto pointed stalagmites below.

Falfysson leads you steadily to the fire - he warns you to watch your step, to stay on the path and to beware of dark places.  "There are holes all about, that you would not see until you fell to your deaths," he says.  "The stone off the path will give without warning, so do not trust it, and take care of places where water has made the rock slippery."

He leads you as far as the fire, where there is a small stone cave.  The fire, you can see, seems to burn from a cleft in the rock itself, though it has fueled with coal as well.  A massive pile of a ton and a half of coal, with a shovel, fills a crevice close by the fire.

Falfysson provides a key, then shows you the way to the bottom of the stairs that will take you to the Stinger's Tower.  "I will not go with you," he says.  "I will feed my minks and slip out from the passages a way that only I know.  At the top of the stairs you will find a door - open it silently, for there are men-at-arms in the tower."

82 comments:

Andrej said...

Andrej takes the key, nodding to the dwarf. "Do you know how many and what kind of guard minds the door?"

Alexis said...

Falfysson answers, "They are not likely watching the door, for it leads into the bottom of the tower, and they will likely be mastering the stinger upon the tower's high platform. But they will investigate if they chance to hear what they will presume will be my entering below."

Lukas said...

Lukas nods, "Thank you for this." and looks to proceed onwards.

Andrej said...

"Aye. As agreed, you will have safe passage out. If you happen to meet with one of Hornung's pickets say Father Andrej has granted your leave. You may be retained, but you should not be harmed." I hope.

About what time is it now, do we reckon?

Andrej said...

"One last thing. What is a Stinger?"

Andrej said...

"And another, where is the tower located in relationship to the keep and outer walls?"

Alexis said...

You're not sure of the time. Somewhere in accordance with the setting of the sun is your best guess.

"The stinger is a siege weapon," Falfysson explains; "It is like a ballista."

The tower is upon the northeast, overlooking the eastern town of Arnsberg.

Andrej said...

Do any of the dwarves know how to use, fire or disable one? I suppose disabling is the easy part, I'm mostly interested in firing it.

Andrej said...

Do we know how much time has elapsed since Janos joined the party in the dragon's lair? I would think not too much, we've just been talking our way through so far, but I'm not unsure how much time you allot for that.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet asks, "And why did you say leading us to this tower would do us little good?"

Alexis said...

The dwarves are not artillerists.

Time since Janos joining would be perhaps 30-40 minutes.

Falfysson will answer Ahmet: "It leads to nowhere but the Bishop's Chambers and up; if you seek the first, you'll die for certain, and if you seek the latter, you're trapped upon the tower."

Andrej said...

"The Bishop's chambers? I suspect Hornung would want to know about this... it could change how he conducts the coming battle. We should send word immediately. Thoughts?"

János said...

"I agree, we ought to send a runner to Hornung, but do we know how long that will take? I don't exactly feel great about simply sitting here, right beneath the Bishop's feet..."

Ahmet said...

"But how? Have the messenger run back?" He looks at Janos. "How long did it take you to get here from Herr Hornung? I'm afraid by the time he gets there, it will be too late."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet is curious to hear from the Dwarves on this, but as for him, he's for attacking the Bishop, not taking out a lone Stinger tower.

János said...

What do we know about how powerful the Bishop is? I fear how he'll respond when he hears of our intrusion, though perhaps with a cadre of dwarves at our back we'll stand a chance against him.

Ahmet said...

I believe he's a 12th level cleric... at least.

Alexis said...

Janos would answer that it took him THREE hours to get here from Hornung. That's including riding a horse and an hour wasted for not knowing exactly where the font was.

Returning, however, he couldn't say even himself where Hornung would be right now - the Paladin was on the move when he sent Janos. ANYONE sent to find Hornung would have some considerable trouble.

Alexis said...

Frith's feeling is that he and his men are too battered and disabled to stand up to a magical assault - even that of a cleric. "We have no knowledge if the cleric is there, if he is alone, or what pets he may keep" Frith gazes towards the well, where the minks remain. "Even an empty chamber may hold surprises - not to mention what Wards the cleric may keep upon his door jambs and hinges."

Alexis said...

Janos, your character would be up to date upon all the Bishop's latest evils, the creation of the undead within the lower keep and the women he has kidnapped from all over Europe. These are things you would have heard in Hornung's camp.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet harumphs and looks to Andrej and Lukas. "So, all this way just to destroy a single Stinger? Where's the glory in that?"

Lukas said...

"That stinger could be the one that brings down Hornung, or an important siege engine." He glances around, "Besides, if we're creative, perhaps we can find a better use for that part of the tower. At the least we could drop some big parts of the siege device on someone's head below."

Andrej said...

"I do not bemoan the chance to bring down a single stinger... once upon the tower we could cause all sorts of problems for the defenders. My concern is in doing so in isolation. Once we make ourselves known we will be quite vulnerable. The bishop is likely not in his apartments, per se, but as stated we have no idea what IS in his apartments."

"The decision seems to be do we even open the door to see what is beyond? Did we com this far only to stop? If nothing else we must wait for nightfall as per Hornung's instruction. It is near to six bells now based on how long Janos has been with us. How many bells until sunset?"

Alexis said...

Sunset is at 7:54.

Andrej said...

So we've got perhaps a couple of hours. Do we wait here, barge in or turn around. Once inside, do we attempt a careful recon or a rush and attack? If the latter, do we make for the Bishop's chamber or the tower-top?

I recommend we wait and hope that whatever Hornung is planning for nightfall is good enough of a distraction for a small scouting party to slip in and see what's what. We can decide what to do based on what additional information we get. I want to hear other opinions, though.

Alexis, how would a non-thief go about being sneaky in your game?

Alexis said...

Hah. The post is called "Falfysson's Advice" ... not Alexis'.

I think you can guess what you might do to be sneaky, Andrej.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: In my next life, I may come back as a thief. So many great opportunities for a scout, but we don't have one. Of course, in my next life, we'll probably be wanting for a thick-headed fighter...)

Andrej said...

We've got dwarves, Ahmet.

Ahmet said...

Yeah, but why let Batath have all the fun? :)

Andrej said...

Perhaps the battle will be enough of a distraction so that the likes of us could sneak in and take a look around...

(OOC: When I get to roll up my henchman I'm leaning toward trying for somebody stealthy to help round out the party some. Monk would be a nice fit since it looks like Ninetoes won't be back anytime soon.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Yeah... I'm grateful we have Batath and the Dwarves, it's just I hate using NPCs for the fun stuff.)

I think we (or Batath, anyway) should attempt to recon now and get a sense of what we're facing. Two hours won't be enough time to regain any spells or hit points, so there's no real benefit of waiting other than, as you said, the confusion of battle.

Lukas?

Frith said he doesn't want to attack the Bishop, but I'm not sure if he wants to wait or recon. Frith?

Alexis said...

Frith:

"My concerns go to the flight upwards - given Falfysson's warnings to this flame here, if those stairs are wet and precarious, our trail upwards may not take as little time as brother Andrej suggests - and are is Falfysson alone here, I wonder."

Falfysson, the party will take note, is nowhere to be seen. He seems to have slipped out of sight.

Ahmet said...

I'm still not quite sure what Frith wants us to do. It sounds like he wants to turn around and go back.

"So what do you propose we do, Frith?"

Lukas said...

I think he's saying it will take a while to get up the stairs, and he is uncertain if this room is empty of hostiles.

Alexis said...

Frith does not want to go back. "We must do the next thing, my large friend: climb the stairs, and do it now. I do not know the time; I will obey Hornung's schedule as best I can, but I cannot see the sun and I do not know if it is down. Andrej there claims to know the time, but he does not carry a clock and I do not trust my guesses along those lines. I will tell you that way is north -" He points; "- but I will not mark my time here while waiting for a sundown that may have already happened. It may take yet hours to climb the stairs, pass through Falfysson's door, breach the bottom of the tower, fight our way to the top and master the Stinger, whatever that may be - where is the sense in waiting for the world to turn further before we begin?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet nods to Frith's words. "I agree. Lukas?"

Lukas said...

Lukas nods in agreement.

Alexis said...

Frith smugly regards the remainder of the party.

Andrej said...

I'm in

Alexis said...

And so ...

The party does what?

Ahmet said...

I think we should:

Have Batath lead the way up the stairs, followed a minute or so behind by Ahmet and a couple of the stouter Dwarves (in the hope that we're far enough back to minimize the noise, but close enough to be on hand if something is encountered). The bulk of the party another minute or two behind Ahmet's group.

We will have to use torches and proceed slowly to avoid the crumbling edges, black holes, and so on. We could even talking about roping ourselves in a chain... but I don't know if that would work.

Ahmet said...

Andrej, Lukas?

Andrej said...

Andrej will lead the third group. Will the torches help or is the coal fire enough by which to see?

Andrej said...

I'd nix the rope. If the stair is slippery then the chain might just pull down all of us instead of just one of us.

Ahmet said...

From the description -- holes, dark places, slippery rock, crumbling stone edges -- I thought we might need a portable light source, especially we humies.

Alexis said...

Torches will be needed. While the coal fire lights much of the cavern, even to the roof, the stairs weave behind rock formations and are not in line of sight with the fire for most of their course.

Ahmet said...

If Lukas is on board... let's proceed.

Andrej said...

Assuming we agree, Andrej lights a torch and prepares to lead the third group thirty counts after Ahmet's group departs.

His shield is on his back and his mace upon his belt, so other than the torch hands are free.

Lukas said...

Lukas agrees and will happily take a torch if needed.

Alexis said...

I haven't seen anything from Janos, but I presume he will agree.

I think, for the moment, we can continue this thread here.

The way up is certainly dangerous. The stairs, you find, are not only slippery, but very often anything but level ... some handgrips have been inserted into the stone walls on either side of the stairs (they rise up between stone outcroppings, as I said), but these handholds are slippery too.

Worse, there are other wells, previously unseen, that occur on the LEFT side of the stairs (the right side would be that facing the direction of the main cavern). These are sheer drops, deep and contain unknown possible denizens.

Ahmet, leading the first group, will start the process of die rolling.

Could I please, Ahmet, have a d20 rolled.

Alexis said...

(OOC: I want to express that it is possible that the wrong roll will cause a party member to slip and shoot out straight off a ledge; this is a small chance, but know that it MUST exist as a possibility, and it does. I do not like the idea of having a party member die in this manner, but given the setting, and a reasonable expectation of dangerous spelunking, it must be acknowledged as a real risk)

Ahmet said...

D20: 14

Ahmet said...

Ahmet, using his knowledge of underground construction, is quite unimpressed with such shoddy workmanship. Even the copper mines of Anatolia had higher safety standards than this!

Alexis said...

Ahmet, you slip severely, but you retain your footing; picture your stance, feet wide apart, hands held away from your body for balance. You feel certain even pulling your feet closer together would be a risk.

The path ahead has been made wet by water dripping from a large stalactite about directly forty feet above you. The limestone seems effectively polished by the spattering drips. What do you do? Please be VERY specific, as your exact body position matters.

Alexis said...

Sorry, I meant to add; you are on the stairs, some 3 feet from one of the black wells I spoke of earlier; it is on your left. Your right foot is behind your left foot, so the drop is somewhat behind you.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet gingerly puts his hands down on the stairs in front of him, in the hope of going up on hands and feet will prove easier.

Alexis said...

Putting your hands down first seems to have improved your position; there's no need for a roll at this time.

Your next move?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet alerts those behind him to the smooth, slippery stairs.

Presumably Batath is in front, yes? If so, and if he continues, Ahmet slowly continues his dog-like ascent on the stairs.

Alexis said...

Ahmet takes one step and has to make a dexterity check immediately.

d20, please.

Alexis said...

At that moment, Batath - about ten feet ahead - slips; he manages to land flat on the surface of the path, arms splayed out.

"Farm-fucking-goats," he curses.

Ahmet said...

D20: 10

(OOC: I'm curious if you receive a boost in web traffic from people googling the phrase "farm fucking goats")

Alexis said...

You knock one of your knees on the ground as your leg slides, but otherwise Ahmet is fine. Batath seems frozen in place; he makes no move to get up.

Ahmet's action?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet curses, pondering ALL the group going through this. Someone slipping and falling to their death seems inevitable.

He hisses as quietly as possible,

"Batath! What's wrong?"

Ahmet said...

Perhaps we can secure a rope to what seems to be one of the better anchored hand rails, so those behind us can use it to pull themselves along.

Alexis said...

Batath answers, "I'm thinking that if the whole group tries to cross this section of path, someone is going to die. I'm wondering if we can get some sand to coat the path is the worst places."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet attempts to remember where he's seen sand recently. No dice.

"Sand? Where can we get sand?"

He suggests the idea of tying a rope to a hand rail.

Alexis said...

"And to what do we tie the hand rail?"

Lukas said...

Lukas shakes his head and eyes the size of the section of path. He cracks his knuckles and then casts 'salt' on that section of path, to make it walkable. At least for now.

Ahmet said...

The way up is certainly dangerous. The stairs, you find, are not only slippery, but very often anything but level ... some handgrips have been inserted into the stone walls on either side of the stairs (they rise up between stone outcroppings, as I said), but these handholds are slippery too.

I was picturing metal hand rails driven into the stone?

Alexis said...

I'm hurrying, I suppose. I meant that there are handholds that have been bored into the rock; a hand-sized hole with a lip for gripping, like upon a climbing wall.

Unfortunately, there isn't one above you just now.

"How about the straw?" asks Batath.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Got it.)

Ahmet passes back word down the line to bring up the straw from the kobold camp.

Is Lukas's salt making any difference?

Ahmet said...

Can Ahmet or Lukas use their knowledge of underground construction to determine a way to fix this problem?

"When I was a boy in the mines, we had a similar problem, and we fixed it by..."

Alexis said...

Presuming that Lukas was in the front party, and standing within 10 feet behind Ahmet, his cantrip only affects one square yard (I believe); so it enables Ahmet to stand securely in that one place.

Word goes back for straw, the dwarves with Ahmet's group explaining how much is needed.

Batath skitters forward to where the path is dry again, and explains that he'll be going out ahead to examine any other bad places.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet tells the Dwarves with him to wait here to spread the straw, and then carefully -- knowing where Batath sprawled -- makes his way forward to the next "safe" spot. I don't want Batath cut off from the party.

Ahmet said...

(On hands and knees if necessary... I'm not proud!)

Alexis said...

Another d20 please, Ahmet

Alexis said...

"When you were a boy in the mines, Ahmet, you had a similar problem, and you fixed it by closing off that passageway and by-passing it"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet relates that story.

D20: 13

My lucky number?

Lukas said...

Four square yards, but with a range of 10 feet, that doesn't help much. I would try and make a path rather than fill the whole space of coarse.

Alexis said...

Ahmet,

A 13 is good enough; you're past the tricky part.

Lukas,

I'll judge that you can cover most of the tricky area; it isn't quite a perfect fix, however, as the cantrip indicates the salt is only a sprinkle. Still, it saved Ahmet a roll (was going to be four dex checks to get across).

All,

The dwarves begin carrying armfuls of straw up from the kobald's storage room. This takes time, but after an hour most of the difficult parts of the path are covered, and the party can climb along the stairwells with little difficulty.

No one seemed to care where Falfysson disappeared to. He was slaughtering one of the small cows Ahmet and Lukas saw their first time in the cave; he gives the cow meat to the minks. He happens to mention that there were three minks, but that thieves broke into the cave before the war and killed one of them.

Alexis said...

Afterwards the Bishop rearranged the dungeon, drove the otyugh from one of the wells in this cavern out to the front cave - which used to be a play area for the minks. The forward storeroom was emptied by the kobalds - whom Falfysson calls filthy little things.

He also happens to mention to Zoft, while throwing meat to his pets, that he never goes up to the door. The Bishop, apparently, uses some apparatus to climb into the heights ... so no one has actually travelled that path for ages and ages. "I did it once," says Falfysson. "I nearly fell and died. But I said it would do you no good."

Alexis said...

This is continued on the next post.