Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First 18 Days in the Mountains

November 18, 1650, Tuesday
Weather: with a frosty morning, chilly mid-day and cool in the late afternoon, with calm weather, at most a light breeze, and an intermittent drizzle briefly before evening

Two and a half weeks have passed without any news, and the party has begun to settle themselves in Hadji Lazaro's camp.  There have been three steady snowfalls, and occasional brief flurries, all in the morning or mid-day.  By afternoon, it is usually chilly or brisk, and yielding a little drizzle as it is a bit too warm for snow.  Some days there's a wild wind, but in the sheltered meadow, it is usually something seen in the clouds, whipping overhead, rather than felt.

There has been surprisingly much to do.  The party have gotten to know their guards well - though I'll skip over naming them all, until asked to do so (I'd rather not).  A careful count identifies 94 men, women and children in the settlement, with 41 men, 38 women and 15 children - these last range in age between seven months old and six years.  No child over six years is in the village, which Lazaro explains is because each season, once a boy or girl reaches that age, they are placed with family or in an artisan's shop to learn a decent trade.

Abantes, Lazaro's son, expresses an interest in Ahmet's swordsmanship, and offers to give Ahmet pointers on how to better use a scimitar.  This could explain why Ahmet's THACO improves one point from what it was before, from 17 to 16 ... for I would assume even Ahmet is wise enough to know when someone pleasantly offers to spar with him for his own good.  Lukas even sits in now and then, finding that his THACO has also improved by a point, from 21 to 20.  Abantes proves to be a decent fellow, and tells Ahmet of how he and his father are from Epirus, in northern Greece, and that they are neither one of them Italian.  This, says Abantes, is the reason why his father takes a title usually associated with chieftains in Macedonia and Thrace, rather than an Italian title.

Sofia rambles over the whole area, keeping a sharp eye out for anything that catches her eye.  She sees some places where the rocks on the cliff walls are designed to come loose, should anyone attempt to climb out.  She judges the water fall, and assures herself that yes, the cliff is almost certain death for anyone to climb down while the water is running.  She takes her best chances to identify the location of the mechanism that allows the gate above the waterfall to move, cutting off the water--where she learns it runs into 'swallow hole' a foot wide, too deep to reckon.  She finds no sign of mines, underground passages, concealed holes or anything to suggest a dungeon beneath the meadow.  She watches the others fish the stream and takes a hand at it, throughly enjoying herself.

Lukas learns there's a library ... some two hundred books altogether, kept in the best house of the settlement, Lazaro's.  There are books on Italian history, civil engineering and design, painting, aesthetics--and much to Andrej's surprise, when Lukas tells him--five books upon pastoral work.  There's more than enough material for Andrej to practise with, and Lukas can at least teach him his ABC's, as well as getting him to sound out his vowels and consonents.  Andrej seems to have a bit of a flair for it.

Maximillian does get to know the party fairly well, but he and Mareo still keep mostly to themselves.  For Maximillian, this is an opportunity to at least reasonably investigate the high country of the Tyrolese Alps in November.  He may have ventured up here for a day or two, but this is far longer than he's ever been, and he's had quite a number of unexpected sightings of birds, small animals and the like.  I believe that he has speak with animals as a spell, though I may be wrong.  He hasn't had a chance to use the spell if he has, but he has continually looked for such an opportunity.

Hadji Lazaro has brought up many of the party's things, including Lukas' spellbook (which Lazaro is keeping under lock and key, but wishes Lukas to know it is safe), Andrej's requested Bible, the party's weapons, all their equipment and so on.  This is guarded by a goodly sum of the guards, in a heavy wooden hut with a door so small one must get on one's hands and knees to go through it.  In particular, Lazaro adores the complicated barrel, and spends an afternoon experimenting and playing with it.  He offers to trade his mace - which he calls Aksion Spacimo - for it.

There are other surprises ... Hadji Lazaro spends more than half his day, every day, hearing accounts, having letters read aloud to him, dictating letters and apparently managing assets in Switzerland, Dalmatia, Greece, Florence and Modena, and of course in Bozen.  Maximillian overhears that the bandit chief gave - without expecting compensation - 3,500 gold pieces to the Baron of Klausen, a castle along the road between Brixen and Bozen, which the party passed on their way, for the repairing of the road there.  "Fewer people have travelled along it, giving us fewer people to rob," says Lazaro in a letter. 

Lukas heard that Lazaro donated 40 of his men to the Duke of Urbino, to help break the Spanish siege on the city, that had been going on for two months.  Sofia overhears that he had donated a small galley, "until the next summer months," to the Govenor of Rovigo, to help better patrol the lower marshes of the Po, where it had been reported that sahuagin from the Adriatic were raiding.

On the 18th two significant events happen.

The first, Maximillian is in the small woods, amid the stand of poplars, examining the bark of trees to learn what he may, when he notices that the guard has wrapped himself heavily in his cloak, and has fallen asleep while leaning between two close-growing trees, enabling Maximillian to throw a spell.  There is a chipmunk on a log, about ten feet away, watching the druid observing the guard.

Near to the same time, Sofia finds the mechanism, at last, and has a few seconds to examine how it works.  She rolls under her find/remove traps, and sees in a moment how it is moved so the stream can be diverted.

71 comments:

Andrej said...

Sofia keeps this info tucked away, and will inform the others of her discovery, quickly and discretely, given an opportunity.

Andrej would like to hear more about the mace. What is its story? How did the esteemed Lazaro come to posses it?

Regarding learning to read, you worked out a rather elegant system for learning whereby 3d6 is rolled each day and that number recorded on a log. So many of each number must be successfully rolled to be complete instruction in learning anything, consistent with the odds of rolling numbers between 3 and 18. Should Andrej now make a roll for each of the 18 days, or have you already done so or are we foregoing the system?

Alexis said...

Can't remember where I wrote it. If you know the link, throw it back at me.

I'm good with you rolling 17 throws (call the first day getting settled in).

Ahmet said...

Ahmet never passes up an opportunity to cross swords with a Greek, even if it is only practice.

Are Abantes and Lazaro leaving camp occasionally to kidnap more people, or do they appear to be done for the winter?

Are Maximillian and Mareo the only other prisoners?

Aside from the heavy hut with the small door, are any other areas off limits to the prisoners?

During one of his sparring sessions, Ahmet asks Abantes about the nature of their business. How long have they been doing this? How do they decide who to kidnap? How many people have they kidnapped? How many were successfully ransomed, and how many slain?

Ahmet said...

One more question... should I note the sparring as a permanent "+1 to hit with scimitar", or is it for a limited time only?

Maximillian said...

(Oh Ho! Hmm, I have Entangle,
Shileagh,
Speak with Animals, and
Faery fire. I think the only one that will be useful in this instance would be speak with animals, which I understand based on the rewrite would not be effective for giving any but the most simple of instructions, but can be used to obtain information the creature would know.)

Quickly now, I cast Speak w/ Animals on the chipmunk as quietly as possible to avoid awaking my minder. I believe that gives me 45 seconds to converse. I will try to ascertain anything it knows about hidden places. Either where people might hide, or where scary things might emerge from. Failing that line of inquiry, I'll ask about hidden doings, things I may not have observed or which happen at night.

Maximillian said...

Finally, I ask about anything else that the chipmunk might find unusual recently, I mean besides people talking to it, and I promise to feed it bread for it's help.

Alexis said...

Ahmet,

1) Now and then Abantes has left, but Lazaro seems taken with business. No other prisoners have appeared, and you do know from other sources that Lazaro seems to have perhaps a hundred or more men who answer to him in some way (mostly referred to and not seen)

2) Maximillian and Mareo are the only other prisoners.

3) The heavy hut with the small door is the only off-location, apart from climbing the cliffs in any direction. If you move too close to the gap, a guard will move you along.

4) Abantes will say that his father was a mercenary once upon a time, that he returned for his family when Abantes was still an infant and that Lazaro brought his family to Italy to escape the Ottomans.

5) They will kidnap anyone who doesn't pay the fine, but only the obviously wealthy are brought here. The bandits ask for what they think the travellers can pay, and often do not ask anything from the poor but a bit of bread or a drink of water.

The last two questions on that comment, regarding how many or the success, no one will answer.

The +1 THACO comes with being 5th level. I'm merely inserting a reason for it to flesh out the campaign. It has nothing to do with the scimitar.

Alexis said...

The chipmunk reassures Maximillian that if anything, there is nothing frightening around here, but that it is - in the chipmunk's opinion - one of the safest, most abundant places in the mountains it knows. They don't eat rodents here, as they have plenty of other food, they're generous, there are no caves or unexplained fearful things happening at night.

Take another question, Maximillian.

Maximillian said...

(umm...)

Alexis said...

Andrej,

The question I forgot to answer,

The story of the mace is merely that it was plunder that Lazaro took long ago in Cyrenaica, defending a Genoese merchant ship that had run aground near Benghazi. The ship had been attacked four times, before they drove back the brigands, went ashore, caught them in their tents and killed them all. Lazaro's now had the mace 27 years, but he uses it only the winter now, and never when he campaigns. He resents not having milk in the high country, as a cow tends not to live up there, so that is his encouragement to trade.

Maximillian said...

(I assume it didn't know any places large enough for people to hide, either underground or in the cliffs, and that there hasn't been any change in the last day or so that might have gone unnoticed to people.

I'm failing to think of anything that could be put t our advantage aside from a means of escape...)

At a loss, and assuming Sophia discovered the rockfall traps days before and relayed the info, I'll ask if the chipmunk would be willing and able to climb the cliffs and dislodge the rocks after nightfall tonight. I'm doubtful the little guy would be able, let alone willing, but nothing else is coming to me.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Ha, I get it now.)

Lukas said...

Sorry been a bit ill and got distracted.

I will be glad to take on Hichem.
I will be glad to help Andrej learn to read, and should anyone else be interested at the time and should it not hinder Andrej's development I would help them too.
Finally if I have the benefit to read from the library I will read books on the topic of architecture whenever possible. (To fortify my position.)

I'll try and put up a Hichem post soon.

Lukas said...

He appears to be missing HP.

Ahmet said...

I'm sure Ahmet is illiterate, but how do you determine if a character can read -- is it rolled in chargen?

Alexis said...

Lukas can teach more than one person to read, but I think that some sort of modifier ought to be applied. I'm still not sure where the "learn to do something" post is ... but I'm not worried about it presently. We can catch up on that later.

Ahmet, I think anyone of a set intelligence (8 or higher) can learn to read.

Alexis said...

Lukas can teach more than one person to read, but I think that some sort of modifier ought to be applied. I'm still not sure where the "learn to do something" post is ... but I'm not worried about it presently. We can catch up on that later.

Ahmet, I think anyone of a set intelligence (8 or higher) can learn to read.

Alexis said...

Maximillian, do you have a blog set up for your character yet?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet isn't interested, but his henchman might be once he makes his appearance, if he can't read already.

Maximillian said...

It's extremely rudimentary, but yes, I do. I don't have any of my equipment there yet.

Ahmet said...

By the way, Andrej, I'm fine with you trading the magic keg for the mace.

Ahmet said...

(or our freedom)

James C. said...

Can Andrej handle the mace? Under strict supervision of course. He just wants to get a feel for it. If Andrej hits half as hard with it as Lazaro does it's a fair trade.

James C. said...

(OOC: Will be unavailable for much of the day, back to normal tomorrow. I'll try to dig up that learning post tonight.)

Ahmet said...

Assuming a) 17 nights have passed (this being the 18th day) and b) we are healing normally, Ahmet is now at 50 out of 53 HP.

Alexis said...

(OOC: looks like I'm caught up for the rest of the day also. RE: Andrej and the Mace ... let me put up a comment about that when I get the chance before we move ahead on that)

Ahmet, you're all healing normally ... don't forget that you add a constitution bonus every week (so if your con is 16, that's 9 hit points gained a week), and Lazaro's physician is overlooking you as well, so you're gaining another +2 bonus per week each.

Ahmet said...

Actually, Ahmet heals 2 HP per night instead of the normal 1, plus he gets +3 per week for his CON, plus +2 per week for the doctor -- so that's 19 HP per week. He's definitely fully healed now.

Lukas said...

My HP have been updated.

Looks like I might want to find a half orc marksman who is overweight and really tall...

James C. said...


Learning Anything: http://www.tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2012/08/learning-anything.html

Though I didn't have it exactly correct:

"... Suppose that for each week that passes, the player rolls 3d6 twice ... and then marks the appropriate slots in the above table (the bottom line would remain blank until filled). Every time the die was rolled in a slot that had not reached its maximum, the character would "learn" ... with the total number of successful weeks added together and divided by 216 in order to produce a %."

Maximillian said...

(Lucas, You can stand behind Mareo if you like. He's no half orc but he's big and uncouth.)

Andrej said...

Hey, I resnt that remark! ;)

Andrej said...

(OOC: Today is shaping up only slightly better than yesterday, which means I'll be able to check in more often but not as much as I'd like. I'll be OK most of this morning, then completely unavailavle after 1 PM EST until this evening)

Alexis said...

(OOC: You and I are in the same boat this week, Andrej. We'll get to it in time)

Alexis said...

Ahmet, I've worked it out - Enrico's heavy warhorse, when he joins the party, will have 42 hit points.

Alexis said...

Andrej,

In the discussion with Lazaro about the mace, he will smile widely, then step out of his hovel, bringing the mace with him. Presuming that Andrej would follow, Lazaro moves to the edge of the deepest water of the stream - which hasn't frozen, but the ground everywhere is covered in a few inches of snow - and tosses the mace into it.

Then, without a word, still smiling, he strips naked, dives in, and retrieves the mace from the bottom. When he breaks the surface, he will wave at Andrej to follow him in, saying, "Come on ... the water's fine!"

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Don't be shy, Andrej. We all know about shrinkage.)

James C. said...

Andrej strips down and dives in, shrinkage be damned.

Alexis said...

The water is BLOODY cold ... but Andrej grew up on the prairie, is a half-orc, isn't completely overwhelmed.

No worries about swimming; it is about 5 feet deep (I don't see Andrej's height).

Holding the mace about mid-handle, Lazaro tells Andrej to grab the handle.

James C. said...

Andrej is 5'4"

Andrej grabs the handle and hopes Lazaro is referring to the mace.

Alexis said...

Now, now ...

The moment that Andrej grasps the handle, it suddenly feels as though he is swimming in a warm lake in July.

James C. said...

"Provided that neither of us have peed, Lazaro, this seems to be one handy mace. Would it also keep one warm in a blizzard? How about a magical cold?"

Andrej said...

(OOC: Will be much more available today for posting. Hope all is well with you guys.)

Alexis said...

"No matter how cold it gets, the mace will keep you warm, and no matter how hot, it will keep you cool. Do we have a deal?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet, watching from the shoreline, asks, "ah, but how hard does it hit?"

Andrej said...

"I think we can both attest to how hard it hits in Lazaro's hands, eh Ahmet? Yes, yes... we have a deal, but... may I swing it, perhaps against a tree or something?"

Alexis said...

"Spar with your friend," says Lazaro. He lets go of the mace and swims for shore, keep well out of Andrej's reach, should Andrej decide to reckon its use right now.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Doing my best to give as much time as I can)

Has everyone covered everything they want to with this post? Is there any discussion people want to have between Sofia and Maximillian's discoveries, etc.? If not, I will move the calendar ahead.

Maximillian said...

I would like to know about our sleeping arrangements. How are we guarded while sleeping, and where do we sleep?

I would also like to know of my companions; If an opportunity presented itself, how much risk would they be willing to take to attempt gaining our freedom?

Lastly, evidently those of us with "divinely" granted powers are able to regain our spells. Would Lukas be able to cast, were he to get the opportunity?

Lukas said...

I can cast whatever I have in memory.

Given I leveled before we left, that's everything. But after that it's gone till I get my book and some free time.

Lukas said...

Also, I am not intending to try and escape yet. I don't feel that's enough information to effectively act on. We need an opening AND that information.

Maximillian said...

I agree we don't have anything actionable as yet. The question was hypothetical, because I don't want to keep pestering Alexis for every detail, if we're not going to use them. I am nearly half way through my stay here though...

Andrej said...

Damn Blogger at my post I think.

Learning to read: Andrej rolled 4 times (2 weeks), equated to a 1.8% chance to learn and failed his roll with a 70-something.

Andrej will spar with Ahmet (if his friend is willing)and this plus his field of study Legends & Folklore (Artifacts, Beasts, Heroes)wil be applied to learn as much as he can about the mace in the unlikely event it is either an artifact or belonged to a hero, questioning Lazaro further if his knowledge reveals anything further. Either way, deal is agreed to and when Andrej's curiosity is satisfied he will set the mace down and walk away from it, allowing Lazaro's men to take it and place it with his other belongings.

By my count the bulk of the party has 72 and Maximillian 50 days remaining, so I think its' too soon to plan an escape. But...

Andrej will continue hanging around the library and Lazaro, trying to both learn to to read and learn more of our host, his businesses and his character. As of right now I have every reason to believe Lazaro will hold to his word so far, for good or ill. Andrej is on the lookout for any indication that he won't.

Sofia continues exploring the valley. She will attempt to learn more of its configuration and the habits and abilities of the guards as she can.

Maximillian said...

Likewise, I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open, but will spend my time roughly as you described it, making as much (from a character interest standpoint) of the opportunity to fully explore a high-alpine environment as possible.

Alexis said...

You're not all sleeping together. You are guarded when you're sleeping, and you're placed in different hovels, with guards that are changed once and are rather annoying in how they manage to stay conscious all night.

Lukas can't regain any spells he's used, because he hasn't got his spellbook. The druid and the cleric are both kept from praying for more than five minutes at a time, since they need to pray for 15 in order to regain a spell they've used.

Alexis said...

Andrej, I'd like to alter the system slightly. I'd like to first perform an intelligence check each day for both Andrej and Lukas; then, for days when you're both successful, give the 3d6 roll. Since this is alot of rolling, I'd like to just generate the result ... once, if possible, when there's no more chance to study for the present. Since I don't know yet how long you'll be here (rolling random each day), I'd like to hold off on the total accounting, unless you really need an update. I'll post it as a table, if that's good for you.

Alexis said...

What Andrej knows about the mace is that, first, it does have an unusual shape. while still metal and spikes, the spikes to some degree carved ... and suggests an African origin, possibly the Empire of Mali or Songhai. You're fairly certain it was made either in Tombouctou or Kano, both of which are metalsmithing centers in Subsahara. The former is also famous as an architectural icon, and as a center for magic and learning (which Lukas can tell you). Evidence seems to be that whomever holds it is affected by a permanent endure cold/heat spell, but only so long as it is physically held. It seems to have no ego, but it is a +1 weapon, and must have some importance since it has the 'minor power' one associates with unusual artifacts. Unfortunately, very specific knowledge beyond that I've described is beyond your ken.

Remember that Lazaro said he obtained it in Cyrenaica, which is part of Libya.

Alexis said...

Sofia has more or less discovered all she's able to know ... for the present. I'll have to advance time before more can become evident.

Maximillian said...

(ooc: Alexis, I'm sure you didn't intend it this way, but the way you've rewritten the shilalaleigh [I'm really going to have to learn how to spell that] spell on sameuniverse, it seems it would be possible for a druid to have more than one, if they cast it several days in a row without using it. Maybe it just needs to be changed that a druid can only have one, since they imbue it with a part of their own power, or something. Obviously this isn't critical for the time being.)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet is making no effort to escape for the time being.

Ready to move on when everyone else is.

Andrej said...

Alexis, no worries... we can hold off on the accounting until the end or until you're ready to say so. I have no qualms about however you want to handle the learning. Just be advised that Andrej will be studying at every opportunity he gets while a "guest" of Lazaro and factor that into the eventual system.

Maximillian said...

You know, at first I didn't think Maximillian would be interested in learning to read, but now I'm beginning to think he is a curious person, so he's coming around to the notion. I'll be joining the lessons from this point further, if that's alright. So, however many days Andrej gets minus 18.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Maximillian, no one has ever come to that conclusion about the shillelagh ... but I wrote it about 8 years ago; I haven't rewritten Druid spells, and probably won't get to them until March, but so noted).

Sorry, for general interest.

All the Sage classes, cleric, druid, illusionist and mage, automatically know how to read. Andrej is a cleric who cannot because of a quirk in his personal background generation. But Maximillian, you know how to read already.

Maximillian said...

Ah excellent, thanks. I guess that explains why Andrej is so eager to learn too.

Lukas said...

Cool, I'm ready to advance when everyone else is.

James C. said...

Also ready.

Maximillian said...

As am I

Alexis said...

Okay. I'll have more up soon, after I'm settled in.

Alexis said...

I'm having some issues with time. Please bear with me.

Maximillian said...

Of course!

Andrej said...

No worries, Alexis.

Alexis said...

The next post is up.