Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On to Memel, the First Day

September 19, 1650, morning Friday
Weather: With brisk temperatures and an intermittent drizzle, with a light breeze.

Thursday, the temperature never did prove better than cool, and come Friday morning the intermittent drizzle has been going on since late afternoon the day before.  There are distinct signs winter is coming to this land.  There's hardly a green tree left, and the light breeze from the sea is a bit sharper than comfortable.  To remind the party, 'brisk' would be in the 40s ... so all in all, you're not all that anxious to get on the road without coats and perhaps thin gloves.

The road to Memel is well-worn, as you make your way through the land of Samogitia.  You quickly make your way back to the Ferry again, which you saw when you first emerged from the woods Wednesday.  By mid-afternoon, you take note that the hills on the right fall behind you, as you start across a wide, peaty flat.  Although you are moving along the river (the road skirts a hundred yards from it), beyond the river you can see the gray water of a bay of some sort ... there's no sign the river is debouching into it.  The far bank of the river shows a natural levy of silt and sand.  This side of the river is marshy, filled with algae ponds and occasional high points where there are willow trees.
The landscape by early afternoon.

You see a few people coming from Memel, but you overtake no one on your journey and no one overtakes you.  Those travelling opposite are pilgrims or sailors, who will tell you they are coming home for the first time in a year or more ... you meet a cleric returning to his church in a village called Tauroggen.

The afternoon turns pleasant, with clouds in the sky.  In the evening, there's nowhere to camp except along the road, which extends perhaps a dozen feet before the ground becomes spongy and damp.  You finish setting up camp and the drizzle returns.

All day, there have been signs that Kushi, the dwarf, is distinctly unhappy.  This is particularly evident as you are setting up camp ... but Kushi does not say why.

113 comments:

Ahmet said...

As helps set up camp, Ahmet maneuvers to get a moment alone with one of the other Dwarves.

"Kushi seems troubled, no?"

Alexis said...

"Don't worry about it," says Ermeth.

Lukas said...

Lukas, haveing previously been wandering quite a bit looking for work, is now happy to be on the road again for a while. While he walks he considers whether their destination will be as marshy, and if so how they construct their buildings.

Alexis said...

(OOC: forgot to mention; Janos will be intermittent for the next few weeks as he seriously takes advantage of the summer - he's around, but we may not hear much from him)

Alexis said...

Kushi can be seen giving the occasional dirty look at Ahmet.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet scowls right back at him.

You picked the wrong guy for a glowering contest, my friend.

Lukas said...

Lukas decides to strike up a conversation while setting up camp. What is a better time than while dwarves and stubborn folks are glowering at each other? (Which I think will be an even match, dwarves don't cry when they are born, they glower.)

He targets Ermeth in particular, but tries to be within earshot of the other dwarves. "I've been curious, as sappers, what are some of the things that make your job the hardest? Architecturally anyhow."

Alexis said...

"Doing it quietly," answers Ermeth.

Lukas said...

"That's interesting. Does your team ever make use of a spell to silence sound? I would think a few good placed uses of that might make it easier. Do you ever use explosives?"

Lukas ponders on solving the problem of sappers making noise. A permanent silence spell would do some amazing wonders if such a thing were possible...

Lukas said...

(OOC: And now I ponder the effects of explosives and a silence spell. Placed under a tower, would the tower just suddenly collapse in on itself with a noisy collapse that seems to come from nowhere?)

Andrej said...

While Lukas and the other dwarves seem distracted Andrej will approach Kushi.

"You have been this way before, yes? How long has your troupe been abroad and away from home?"

Alexis said...

Ermeth will respond to Lukas, "Never had access to a silence spell before."

Kushi will answer Andrej,

"Didn't come this way." He'll look long and hard at Ahmet. "Been gone three years."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet glares back, grinding his jaw.

Andrej said...

"I am glad that you and your comrades walk this road with us, Kushi, though I imagine you must be looking forward to home by now. I feel that in a short time we have all become like comrades. We are all friends here, are we not, Kushi?"

Lukas said...

Lukas nods, "Might be worth some investigation. I figure a minute or two of silence could be very worthwhile to your group for critical moments. I'll see if maybe I can recommend on your next assignment if you can get that support it may be helpful."

Alexis said...

Kushi turns on Andrej,

"I understand what you babyeaters are all about. Intolerant most of the time, but you at least believe in the same God. But I don't know what you're doing with someone like him -" Kushi points at Ahmet.

"Let it alone, Kushi," says Erdina.

"No, no, I let it alone underground, but we're not under attack now. And I want to know where exactly that one stands."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet stands up and bellows, "I stand with the prophet, peace be upon him, a righteous warrior in the name of Allah!"

Lukas said...

Lukas turns to see this event unfold for now.

Alexis said...

"Don't bellow at me, Turk," replies Kushi, quietly. "I've dealt with your kind before. And where is your name of Allah when you take healing from this Christian?"

Kushi gestures at Andrej.

Andrej said...

Andrej stands up, between Ahmet and Kushi, and facing the latter. He is not shouting nor spitting out his words; but they are measured and direct and addressed to the entire group.

"So amidst danger and battle a baby-eater's spells and a muslim's sword arm are good enough for Kushi, but here on the road he needs words to know where men stand? Words are empty vessels, dwarf, set against the weight of actions. The road is big enough for two parties on their way to Memel. You and any who feel as you do are free to make your way there without us. No bond holds you here if not the bond forged in battle bleeding together."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet resumes scowling.

Alexis said...

"As ever like a catholic you talk and you talk but you don't answer."

He takes a breath.

"I'll fight beside you when the time comes, when I'll fight my way and you'll fight yours - but if you deign to grant your boon on that saracen, I'll inquire about your loyalties and his to God.

You can show me the road, Cleric, but you can't show God the road - and so I'll ask again: why do you give aid to this Turk, if he does not respect your god?"

Andrej said...

"Ahmet has never shown disrespect for my God. Indeed, Kushi's disrespect is the only sort I've tasted this day. I do not deny the saracen his healing, for he has asked for it. I would not deny the thick-headed dwarf his either, should he or she just ask it."

"I do not deny my mace its cleaning and repairing, though it too does not recognize the one, true and only God. But when I swing it, make no mistake, it is in God's service. If you or one of your friends are ailing, step forward and be healed in the morning. If not, hold your tongue or find your own way to the Rhineland."

Alexis said...

"I have not said he shows disrespect ... but I do not see respect, either. Nor do I ask for what you have given him - but I ask what you have received from him in kind for your ministrations! While you swing your mace in service, Cleric, where it is you swing your expectations?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet smirks. "If you are suggesting I do nothing, Kushi, pick up your weapon. I will show you what I do."

Andrej said...

'Blood. He has given me his blood as I have given mine. Same as you, Kushi."

Andrej begins to gather his things

"After this moment, what friendship we had between us is done, Kushi, and whatever bonds there were broken. I will no longer suffer to hear such ill words. Come no closer than an arm's length of me, dwarf. What enemies I have so far encountered in this life no longer have the breath to speak so ill of me."

Andrej makes to move further down the road and set what camp he will have for himself 100 yards distant.

Alexis said...

One action at a time, please.

Obviously, "gathering up your things" is a bit more difficult ... for one thing, it's awful cold a hundred yards down the road, and it was hard enough to find enough wood in the day to build a fire. There's a certain contingent on physical matters that may not be taken into account.

Also, there's the recognition that the other dwarves do not seem to support Kushi in this; Erdina looks worried; Ermeth's hands are flexing, and he's letting things play out like Lukas is. Batath has turned his back to the whole thing.

So while Kushi may be yelling, "He's given YOU blood, but has he given God blood? Has he advanced God's cause?!" Ermeth will be dragging him away while Erdina moves to stop Andrej as meaningfully as she can.

"Don't misunderstand him, Father - he has always been sore about such things ... give him time, he will feel differently in the morning."

Alexis said...

And following that, there will be a sound, LOUD ...

Like the earth itself releasing a belch. It arises somewhere upon your left, towards the river.

"What was that?" asks Batath, starting.

Lukas said...

Lukas moves to arm himself. He then puts his back to the fire looking outwards for the source of the sound. "Do any of you see anything?" He asks (more particularly to the non-humans)

Ahmet said...

Remembering the neo-otyugh, Ahmet scurries to grab his crossbow, scimitar, and shield.

Andrej said...

Perhaps Andrej has gathered enough of his stuff to already have mace and shield at hand?

Andrej cautiously moves toward the sound. Does he see or smell anything? Remember he has infravision.

Andrej said...

(OOC: interesting to me the difference text vs. live action might make... when I first read Kushi's "...but I ask what you have received from him in kind for your ministrations..." bit I read it as, "what kind of nefarious deal has the heathen worked out with you that you would sell him indulgences" but now I read it as more the general hand-wringing of a zealot. Not sure, though, which way it was meant.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I took it as "you've done these things for him, but he's done nothing for you")

Alexis said...

(OOC: Closer to, Andrej has done this for Ahmet, but Ahmet has done nothing for Andrej's god; the correct reading is as the hand-wringing of a zealot)

Alexis said...

Andrej can't move much towards the sound - only across the narrow 12' wide road ... any further, and he's liable to step into the edge of a pond.

Everyone may assume they have their weapons.

No one sees anything.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Given that, I suppose Andrej wouldn't have taken it quite so personally, but he (and I) was finished listening to Kushi.

But the dwarf does raise a good point, Ahmet. Maybe rubbing some oil on my bunyons or running my cassock to the dry cleaners now and then wouldn't kill you?)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: As we like to say in 17th century Anatolia, "Rub this!"

I'm going to be unavailable most of the day, but I'll check in when I can.)

Andrej said...

Andrej steps back/ toward the center of the road and begins casting detect malevolence.

Lukas said...

Lukas will inject his comment of coarse, "Keep in mind, if it's hidden it's either afraid and means no harm... Or it's an ambush!"

Alexis said...

The dwarves will alight four torches from the fire, and hold them above their heads.

As Kushi moves across the road, on the side towards the river, the party sees a dozen pairs of eyes, like saucers, reflected in the flickering torch-light ... these eyes appear to be the span of a human palm, and are all arranged some 60-80 feet away.

Andrej's malevolence spell identifies those in range (60'?) as being, yes, unfriendly.

Lukas said...

So, I would like to ask one question about this. How far apart are the eyes? Wide spread or human shoulder to shoulder or...

Also about how high or low?

Andrej said...

Range of the detect malevolence is 120'

Alexis said...

Lukas,

The eyes are quite close together; about half the span of the eyes.

They are quite low - perhaps twenty-four to thirty inches above the surface of the swampwater (which is also dimly evident from the torchlight).

Andrej,

The spell matches your eyes - those that you can see are all the spell detects.

Andrej said...

Hydra?

Does Andrej's Field of Study and specialty (Legends & Folklore (Artifacts, Beasts)) provide any insight into what the creature may be?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet loads his crossbow and orders Klaas to do the same.

Alexis said...

Andrej is 100% certain this is not a hydra.

The pairs of eyes are scattered over a 60 degree angle. At the moment, they appear to be studying you ... not advancing.

Occasionally you see a pair of eyes blink - but not often.

A pair winks out, there is an enormous belch, and the eyes re-appear.

Lukas said...

I wonder if throwing a rock at them would scare them off. I don't think anything of human intelligence would sit there after being obviously spotted.

Andrej said...

Giant frogs?
I keep mace and shield at the ready, relaying to my companions that whatever is out there wishes us harm.

Lukas said...

That was my thought. Lukas will probably watch the standoff for a round and then if nothing happens (no companion actions or anything) he will try and throw a rock at the critters.

János said...

Janos readies his bastard sword in one hand and an axe in the other.

"The beasts don't seem particularly aggressive. Perhaps we may be able to frighten them off..."


(OOC: As Alexis mentioned I'll soon be incommunicado for about a week, fellas. However, I have absolutely no problem with things moving along without me; I'd hate to slow the game down any more.)

Ahmet said...

How close are we to dawn? (I'm guessing not very)

Lukas said...

We were just setting up camp, so I'm assuming very not.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Enjoy the time away Janos)

Andrej awaits Lukas or the frogs? initiating some action.

Ahmet said...

Assuming Ahmet and Klaas now have loaded crossbows...

Ahmet raises his to take aim at a pair of eyes. He then calls out, "Ho there!"

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Who knows, maybe they're talking frogs!)

Alexis said...

Very not close to dawn.

The rock (hard to find, by the way) does not scare them off.

There's no answer.

And still no sign of approach. Keep in mind that since the remainder of the body is not visible (assuming there is one), shots with the crossbow are at -4.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet, still pointing the crossbow at whatever this is, or these are, asks Andrej, "can you throw a burning torch close to (but not in) the pond, so we can get a better look?"

Alexis said...

"Do we want to spook them?" asks Erdina.

Andrej said...

"The pond is all about us, is it not?"

My impression is we are on a narrow strip of road with wetlands all about us. Is there any dry land detectable closer to the eyes, say within 20'?

Ahmet said...

Is a map possible, or would that derail today's activities?

Lukas said...

"Well we either disturb them and get this over with, or we have to keep a watch over something that can reach us before most of us will be awake."

Alexis said...

A map would not express the situation, since it is night and everything is dark.

For a view of the eye-pairs, imagine a baseball diamond; it's dark, and all the eyes are in the outfield. None are in the infield, but all are within the actual playing area. They are ranged from mid right field to mid left field.

For the terrain,

Everything on the side of the road towards the baseball diamond is shallow wetland, mostly ponds, some few places of better purchase.

On the opposite side is land, but without free-standing water. However, when you walk across this land, it is made of peat and moss, and as you step you tend to sink until a bit of water rolls over the top of your shoes.

The road is 12 ft. wide and is almost straight between these two places.

The camping area is 12 ft. wide and about the length of a two baseball dugouts ... its just a place of solid ground extending along the side of the road opposite the baseball diamond.

Clearer?

Andrej said...

Chrystal.

Well, we seem to have no interest in walking out to them (it) and they (it) seem to have no interest in approaching us so do we simply wait? For how long?

Lukas said...

Well, I could aggravate them with a spell that cannot miss... You know, firing magic missile at the darkness and whatnot...

"I could probably make at least one hurt or be angry."

Ahmet said...

Maybe Janos or I should approach with a lit torch. I'm willing if Janos isn't (or is already gone).

Lukas said...

We are not getting Janos eaten while he's not here.

Mainly due to established precedence.

Ahmet said...

No, if he's gone he's gone. But if he's still here, he likely has a better chance of identifying whatever it is/they are than Ahmet does.

That said... if Janos has checked out, Ahmet puts down his crossbow, unslings his shield, picks up a torch, and begins to stride out toward center field.

Alexis said...

OH ALLAH! THAT WATER IS COLD!

Can I get a d20 rolled, Ahmet.

Ahmet said...

D20: 2

I don't like where this is headed.

Lukas said...

Um, I'm a bit late, but can we harass Klaas to follow with a polearm or does anyone object to that?

Andrej said...

Andrej approaches the water's edge.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Wow. Just wow. Company's product launch is just kicking my ass. Probably won't be around much today)

Ahmet, your roll indicates that you're prepared to tough out how cold the water it. The temperature is about 8 degrees F above freezing ... and you are soon up to your knees, feet sinking somewhat in muck.

Nothing out there moves.

If you want Klaas to get involved, I need 2d6 for his morale.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet stops.

Can I make out a shape or shapes, or anything, now that I'm closer and holding the torch aloft?

Lukas said...

Honestly, I just didn't want Ahmet going alone. If Andrej wants to go too, then I don't feel it's necessary to send out Klaas.

Ahmet said...

(wipes away a tear)

You really do care about me!

Lukas said...

Oh no, if you try to betray us and join the frogs I need someone ready to slap you back to your senses.

Andrej said...

Andrej eyes the cold water warily, "How much further do you intend to go, turk?"

Ahmet said...

(OOC: All the way to the bottom! :)

Alas, I'll likely be gone most of the afternoon.)

Alexis said...

Ahmet,

You might be able to make out the shape of something vaguely humanoid, in water up to its waist.

Lukas said...

Well, I've got nothing unless you want me to poke it with a magic missile or two.

Andrej said...

Yes, keep that magic missile handy, Lukas.

Andrej, having already sensed their malevolence, takes the initiative.

"Come on and be slain or skulk off to your slimy holes you hell-begotten fiends, but be quick about it!"

Would we do a Conflict! for me to convince these guys to attack us?

I hopd Janos, our ever-alert Ranger, is keeping his eyes and ears open beyond what we see in the outfield... these guys might only be waiting for the rest of their side to get into place.

Ahmet said...

Is there a pair of saucer-like eyes where this humanoid shape's head would be?

Alexis said...

(OOC: Air!)

Andrej,

There is no conflict option you can be certain of. They make no reaction to your shout, either to approach or to veer away. You don't know if they can comprehend language even.

(GCI: point in fact, even some humans can't be reasoned with or spoken to, because they're insane; clearly, from the monsters list we're all familiar with, certain monsters - undead, for instance - would be immune to virtually every kind of conflict!)

Ahmet,

It would seem to be, yes to the question of the humanoid's head ... but point in fact, the eyes being reflective (they do not emit their own light, but are catching the light of your torch) tends to obscure any outline of a "head."

Andrej said...

Should I try turning undead you think?

Lukas said...

Here's my stance. We haven't gone to bed yet right? Which means tomorrow is refreshed... Which means unless we aren't sleeping tonight we can just unload everything. So... It couldn't hurt. Me anyway.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet retreats from the pond and moves to Andrej's side, relating what he's seen (or lack thereof).

Lukas said...

Yeah, the behaviors of these creatures seems a pretty strong indication that they are not possible to reason with.

If I had to guess offhand, I would bet undead from the corpses of those who got lost (or dragged) into the swamp and drowned. The bloop bloop being the gasses released from decaying bodies below the marsh mud.

Of coarse Lukas wouldn't know this, but I think the background of the source is irrelevant to the situation at hand, and if Andrej does the turn test (which will indicate undead or not hopefully) then we'll pretty much know the important parts.

Alexis said...

Kushi will growl at the mage:

"And if they have missile weapons and decide to have a go at us from the dark, from all sides, what then? Have you a spell that will wipe out all in every direction, or light up the night so we can see? If you have, why haven't you used it until now?"

Lukas said...

I don't know what that is a reference to. The it couldn't hurt was 'it couldn't hurt to use turn undead'.

Alexis said...

Going to do anything about those wet pants, Ahmet?

Lukas said...

I'll assume it is in reference to the now or later thing. "Firstly, they don't appear intelligent enough to talk or respond to being seen in their hiding spot let alone organize an ambush that isn't already happening anyways. Secondly, if we stay we're just going to be ambushed anyhow. Finally, if we leave, don't you think an ambush would plan for that? We are already doomed, or that is our sole enemy."

He waits a moment and looks around himself before continuing, "Don't lose your nerve yet. We've still got breath in us yet."

Andrej said...

"Form a wedge in front of Lukas and Klass, facing the bastards.

Mage, get those spells ready to throw.

Klaas, aim high or aim true.

Ahmet at my right hand, we are the tip of the spear.

Ermeth to my left and behind me, Batath to Ahmet's right and behind him. The rest of you dwarves sort yourselves out on either flank.

Janos, you are the rear guard."

Does the party carry out Andrej's instructions?

Andrej said...

The bastards are the undead corpse frogs, not Klaas and Lukas. :)

Lukas said...

So, I'm all for formations, except when they involve marching into the marsh.

Are we going to form up then harass at range until they rush us?

Alexis said...

Kushi's remark is in answer to Lukas repeatedly referring to throwing his magic missile and now Andrej's suggestion to throw spells and aim ... Kushi was pointing out that AFTER you fire what you have, what if they fire what they have?

Lukas said...

"Sure, I hope we're not marching into that marsh though."

Lukas forms up. I assume Klaas is going to ready a crossbow and have his polearm ready?

Lukas will begin casting Magic Missile. Probably the best for the current cover/concealment situation. I assume I can at least target their eyes? (Since there is no attack roll)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I did not mean to stipulate that these were undead ...only that some intelligent beings are technically insane)

Lukas said...

It seems a likely situation given they are standing in frigid water and utterly non-responsive to our actions.

Andrej said...

I'm proposing we neither march into the marsh nor start lobbing spells. If we can get some semblance of a formation, though, Andrej will try turning undead to see what happens.

Lacking some response, I still feel better with some semblance of an organized defense and freeing Lukas up to cast and Klass to fire or take advantage of his glaive's reach.

Andrej said...

So what's the range for turning, anyway?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet didn't wet his pants!

Oh... from the pond.

Unfortunately, I don't think right now is the time for a wardrobe change.

Ahmet gets into formation. He passes the torch to Andrej or, if Andrej doesn't want it, attempts to drive it into the ground as close to the pond as possible, to continue casting light. If that doesn't work, he just drops it.

He then draws his scimitar.

Andrej said...

Andrej doesn't want it. Mace and shield are keeping my hands full plus whatever I have to do to turn.

Alexis said...

Let us move things along, then.

After standing in formation for ten minutes, nothing has happened or changed.

Ahmet said...

Let's get this show on the road!

Andrej said...

We would not have stood there for ten minutes, Andrej wanted to attempt a turn. What is the range for turning undead?

Alexis said...

They are not undead.

Lukas said...

That does simplify things.
So, shall we piss them off?
If at least two players agree I'm all for engaging.

Andrej said...

Go for it. Magic missiles away.

Lukas said...

Which means to say I will cast magic missile and the first missile will target the closest pair of eyes. (The second is launched next round, I assume I choose the target at that time.)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet yells at Klaas to fire his crossbow, and next round pick up Ahmet's crossbow and fire that as well.

Alexis said...

D20 rolls for the crossbows, please. After that, I'll describe what happens, then move this to a new post in order to keep the comments number down.

Lukas said...

Klaas:
d20: 6
2d6: 8 (+2 = 10)

Second Crossbow Klaas would fire:
d20: 14
2d6: 6 (+2 = 8)

Lukas Magic Missile 1:
D4: 3 (+1 = 4)

Alexis said...

The next post is up.