Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Boroge's Cave

Moon, date & weather unchanged.

For the present, I'd like to try describing this without resorting to diagrams.

The mouth of the cave is quite unspectacular ... it is little more than a hole about 8 feet wide, with a short drop that quickly turns to a smooth, steep slope, curving down from the top of the hole out of sight.  The bottom of the curve that can be seen, the party would guess, is perhaps 30-35 feet below.

The air near the cave, or hole, is a bit cooler than the ambient atmosphere - the druid detects a definite odor of fresh water, and the sides of the drop are damp - though by no means wet.

There is a sign next to the hole that reads, simply, 'FEAR,' in black faded letters about four inches high.  The sign is small, about half the size of a small shield, attached to a stake that is pounded into the clay surrounding the hole.  Further out are a number of strong, gnarled pine trees, the nearest about twelve feet from the hole, with a trunk 8 inches thick.  A moment's examination will show that the bark of the tree near the bottom has been worn smooth, as if with ropes regularly rubbed up and down upon it.

Tree not to scale

108 comments:

Lukas said...

Question in general...
What's the odds of us smoking it out?

I mean right now we don't know if down there is a crew of folks smuggling people off the island in the most benevolent solution to keeping the people down but...

Assuming we just roll some burning logs down there... Would they roll? Would we be able to pull that off?

I have to say, if you're sacrificing children, I don't think you care as much about their getting down alive... So the rope burns on the tree are very suspicious.

If we proceed, I would prepare for traps/ambush by something humanoid.

Ahmet said...

Who knows. Maybe the creature prefers his prey alive.

Do the horses seem particularly nervous about being here?

Maximillian said...

You see, this is why we have a wizard...

I am curious, I have a chance of detecting cursed areas/items, do I sense anything like that?

A couple more details I'd like to know: What is the slope of the ground around the hole? in other words, is this in the side of a cliff or into a gentle slope? Could one stand on the upper lip of the cave?

What is the material of the cave? Smooth solid stone?

Alexis Smolensk said...

The horses are perfectly comfortable.

There's nothing about this specific area, 60' radius around Maximillian, that is cursed in any way.

The slope around the hole is not quite flat; it drifts about 2 to 3 degrees towards the north. There's no trouble whatsoever to stand on the lip of the cave/hole.

The material seems to be hard clay for the first few feet, then smooth ribbed limestone, like a pothole, below that.

Maximillian said...

How much light do we have left today?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Perhaps an hour.

Maximillian said...

Lukas' suspicions aside, I'm inclined to believe there is a beast, and I'm inclined to fight it before nightfall if possible.

What are people's opinions? seek out the beast today or return for reinforcements?

If today as I hope, shall we enter the cave? Or try and lure the beast out somehow, perhaps with smoke and fire as Lukas suggested, since we have no children or kids?

Ahmet said...

Speaking of reinforcements... reading back, we left behind Mareo, Carlito, and Hichem. Ahmet has Enrico and Tazio with him, and Andrej has Sofia.

Maximillian said...

That matches my understanding.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Andrej well and truly seems to be off this week. I trust the party wishes to take no action without the support of a 5th level cleric.

Maximillian, regarding matters outside the game - the size of the task is the reason you have found errors. Imagine the task if you are improving the writing, also!)

Maximillian said...

Yeah, I'm fine to wait. I expect I'll talk to you guys on Monday.

James C. said...

Hey guys, Internet connectivity hasn't been what I had anticipated. I suggest we recon the cave, sending a small quick moving party silenced by Andrej's spell. No metal armor. Sofia volunteers.

Happy 4th to those in the U.S.

Lukas said...

Would probably be best to go with a pair if anything happened...

That said, I have no specific ability to be sneaky, and would have my spellcasting impeded by the silence spell.

Of coarse if I just stand back a ways keeping Sofia in sight maybe that would be sneaky enough? What do you guys think? Since I believe we have no stealth ability amongst the rest of us, would that be a good tactic? And who should be the second going with?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet volunteers (as does Enrico, but Ahmet overrules him). He removes his plate mail and dons his studded leather +1.

James C. said...

Here's my proposed plan:

Sofia lights a torch and gets her 50' of rope ready. If anybody else has rope, let's tie them togther to make a longer one.

Once this is done (please chime in if you're offering up rope so we know how much we have) Sofia will lead with the torch in one hand and the other hand on the rope; once she is down the short drop. Ahmet to follow perhaps with one hand on his drawn sword and the other on the rope.

Once thusly situated, Andrej casts the silence spell upon Sofia and the duo makes their way quickly down the sloping cave.

The idea here is to see what is below and not engage anything if it can be helped. Should we run into trouble, Ahmet can switch positions with Sofia and ideally be the rear-guard as we make our way back.

The rope will be tied off somewhere by Andrej, and he will similarly be at the ready to haul the duo up with the others. Andrej will also remian in armor with weapon and shield at hand should quick reinforcements be necessary.

Agreed? Any other ideas? Anything I have forgotten?

Maximillian said...

It was not clear to me that the slope was walkable, but if it is, the plan sounds good. I will stand with andrej to help pull

James C. said...

If not walkable, I'm hoping the rope will prove sufficient for climbing down.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet has 50 feet of rope, as does Enrico, so we could spool it out quite a ways.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The slope is not walkable. You would need a rope.

I seem to be unable to create new posts at the moment; I do not know if this is a blogger problem or otherwise. So for the moment we're in this thread.

Lukas said...

Sounds like a good plan. I'll be ready up here too, with magics And I can pull a rope too if needed.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ah, I can post, but it requires I do it in HTML mode. So it must be blogger.

What do you do next, Gentlemen?

Maximillian said...

Lets put sophia and ahmet each on their own ropes. I can man one and andrej the other. The others can help pull if we need to get them out quickly. AS Long as they stay close enough for the silence spell to work, it should be ok (or does that only affect one person?)

James C. said...

While two ropes would be ideal, we'd be cutting our overall length in half to accomodate having them. I'm not sure how deep this thing goes. All together we have 150' if we tie them together. I say we stick with that plan for now.

Maximillian said...

OK, sounds good. I follow Adnrej's directions while we set up the rope.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Pondering if now would be an ideal time for a Christianing... ah, let's keep that card in our pocket for now.)

Ahmet begins the descent as soon as the rope is set and Sofia is ready to lead the way.

If possible, he brings his shield, slung if necessary -- but if that would prove too unwieldy, he leaves it behind.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Light source?

James C. said...

Can Sofia negotiate the slope, rope in one hand and the torch in the other?

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: heh heh heh, if I had a dollar for every time that question has been asked ...)

Not seriously, no.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let me add, this is why typically people are lowered into strange caves, rather than climbing down into them. If someone else lowers Sofia, so she is not actually climbing, then yes, she can hold a torch.

Lukas said...

Um, can we tie a horse for the lowering part? I mean, we're strong and all but...

Lukas said...

(OOC: Mordekainen's Magical Pulley seems an intriguing prospect.)

James C. said...

What degree slope are we talking here? I heard steep, it must be steeper than I realized.

Change of plans: We lower Sofia down? I like the idea of using the horse.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, the description started with "a drop" ... so, initially, straight down.

I should have provided a diagram. I will forthwith.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Picture's up.

Maximillian said...

I think that with the horse, we should be able to keep with the Andrej's original plan. The only question is do we put both pieces of bait err people on the same line? or do we lower Sophia down, and if all seems well, lower Ahmet after?

Maximillian said...

hmm, not sure where Ahmet's coment went, but it flashed on my screen for a moment, but yes, lowering him first does seem to make sense.

Lukas said...

We don't have to lower both, just the one with the torch.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: It was just snowing here)

Ahmet said...

(Seeing if I can comment again...)

Enrico uses his horse to lower Ahmet with torch in one hand (and shield on forearm) and scimitar in the other.

Maximillian said...

(I can see it, and also Alexis' comment)
I stand at the lip of the cave to guide the rope and attempt to minimize chafing.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I can post again normally now, but I'm going to keep going here a bit longer)

Ahmet, nothing disturbs you as you get down to where you can start to balance against the sloping wall.

At the bottom, just out of sight, the gentle curve will completely level onto a small limestone platform that extends in a three-quarter circle into a low cave. This cave has a flat ceiling of about 11 feet, which extends outwards to your left, right and ahead, farther than the torch can show.

The floor is covered by clear, clear water, about six inches deep as near as you can tell - but that might be deceptive. You can see the bottom clearly, but the depth might be confused by the clearness of the water. Without wasting time, you try your sword (or something else, whatever you wish) and find that in actuality the depth of the water is 2 feet.

It is not especially cold, but there is a definite flow ... you can see tiny bits of what appears to be black moss, small as a mosquito, drifting along the bottom about an inch per second.

Ahmet said...

Has Ahmet been lowered into the water or he is hovering above it?

Alexis Smolensk said...

No, Ahmet is standing on the small limestone platform that extends in a three-quarter circle into the cavern. This platform is above the water, and is about 15' wide.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet searches for a notch or crevice or some kind of natural sconce to hold the torch so he can free one hand.

If he finds none, he sheathes Dilmek to free one hand.

Then (gulp) he unties the rope so it can be hoisted back up so Sofia can be lowered.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'll grant you a natural sconce. The others can pull up the rope.

Maximillian said...

Which we do once we feel it go slack.

Sophia?

James C. said...

Sophia allows herself to be lowered. Once at the bottom, she'll untie and at that time yank the rope to signal up. Andrej will then cast Silence upon an unlit torch and slide it down the slope.

James C. said...

Assume all actions above taken unless something happens to stop them.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet silently indicates to Sophia the strange black moss in the pool.

Perhaps leeches?

Maximillian said...

standing at the top of the cave, I can't see them, correct?

Lukas said...

I got a few glass jars for collecting oddities! And tongs!

Andrej said...

(OOC: I'll be back to a more consistent posting rhythm today.)

Ahmet, you're guess is as good as mine on the moss. Once Alexis is back, let's one of us take a closer look.

As far as proceeding after that goes, Sofia will tuck the silenced, unlit torch in her belt and carry the lit one. This will free Ahmet up to use a shield.

What is the ruling on armor? I had suggested off-blog in an e-mail Ahmet could re-don his. I don't know if that's a good idea or not, but how are we proceeding... with or without?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Please presume up to this point that all actions requested have been taken.

The moss definitely does not look to be alive. It is only evidence of the flow of the stream.

That is correct, Maximillian. You cannot see them.

Somehow, I missed earlier that Ahmet had taken off his armor. Please, let us assume that he is armored, as I would not have insisted he take it off to be lowered down.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I had Ahmet change into his Studded Leather +1 while my comments were blinking out of existence yesterday. I'm assuming Andrej is suggesting Ahmet should left on his Mithril Plate Mail once we switched to the dangle plan, but I'd rather stick with the leather. I may have to beat a hasty retreat and could use the extra MP...)

Is Sofia still on the rope or is she untethered now?

Maximillian said...

She untied herself, so we could lower the torch. We at the top are now awaiting signal that we should haul you guys out, or begin lowering the wizard.

Andrej said...

I would recommend not lowering the entire party at this point, we're still in recon mode and in the event of a hasty retreat being necessary, would be better off with fewer needing to make it up the slope.

We appear to be all set. Unless somebody else is truly dying to be lowered, let Ahmet and Sofia set out, silenced, for a quick reconnaissance of the cave.

Ahmet leads, leather-clad and shield bearing. Sofia carries the torch just behind him.

Andrej said...

P.S. I promise we won't hog all of the fun, boys.

Maximillian said...

(heh) Maximillian awaits a sign.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet leads the way into the cave, shield on one arm and Dilmek in the other, taking care to stay close enough to Sofia that he is silenced.

Maximillian said...

Of course, silenced your screams will go unheard ;)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: This is the part of the horror movie where everyone in the audience is yelling at the screen, "DON'T GO IN THERE YOU IDIOTS!")

Andrej said...

We have a 30' radius on the spell and it lasts 10 rounds from when Andrej cast it. We must have at least 8 rounds left (if not 9) as he slid it down the slope once Sofia was afoot below.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I am still having posting problems with blogger)

Ahmet, the leather is fine.

Of course, the difficulty is that while you can't be heard, you also cannot hear anything outside your area of effect, either.

Still, it may be difficult for you both to continually stay within 15' of each other - however, I judge you not to be stupid, so if you do get a bit separated, I will assume Ahmet will go still and quiet.

To lead the way into the cave, Ahmet must step off the platform and into the water. He sinks to his knees in it. The water is chilly, and he feels his heart rush as he does so ... but the water is nothing like snow melt. You would both guess the pool is fed by a spring.

The water does not get any deeper; in fact, the floor seems quite smooth and regular. However, you would guess that the depth of the water would slow you down in a fight (a penalty of 1 extra movement point to advance to a new hex). Once in trouble, you would have much trouble separating yourself from it. Ahmet figures he could, in his leather armor, manage to go 10 feet (2 hexes) in the first round, 20 feet in the second ... and that would be his maximum. Sofia, who is moving 5/6 (not sure) would of course move faster.

Did I tell you Sofia was moving six, Andrej?

Alexis Smolensk said...

30' diameter; silence 15' radius.

Andrej said...

Noted the correction on radius.

I have Sofia's movement as 6, but not sure if you told me that or if I assumed it from when Nine-Toes played.

Keep moving forward? What more do we see of the cave now that we're deeper into it?

Alexis Smolensk said...

It should be 6. I just haven't got anything I can address at the moment.

As you move to either the right or left, you find a wall some 30' distant, dimly illuminated by the torch. The ceiling of the roof is dry, and a dark rusty red in color; the stalactites are short, only spiked in some places; much of the ceiling seems marked by a sort of limestone bubbling, as though stalactites have only begun to form.

Ahead, there is a large break in the wall, 18' across, where apparently a second cave begins. The silence spell will cease before you can get through this opening; it is about six hexes away, and being careful, you're moving only 2 hexes a turn (Sofia can move 3).

Alexis Smolensk said...

(I trust everyone is nicely terrified)

Andrej said...

(OOC: yup)

Sofia touches Ahmet to get his attention, then puts a finger to her lips to indicate silence.

She attempts to hear noise, as per the monk skill.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I presume that means after the spell runs out. About 12-18 seconds from now.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet spends the 12-18 seconds looking around for bones, claw marks, shredded clothing, frantic good-bye messages carved into the stone, etc.

Alexis Smolensk said...

You find nothing of that nature.

Lukas said...

Perhaps Ahmet's mining knowledge might know something about 'natural' caves of this sort. And or if it is not a natural cave of this sort? Just saying.

Ahmet said...

Hmm... good point.

Does it appear to be man-made construction (or expansion), or a natural cavern formed by running water much like the one that his nephew Vedat drowned in while attempting to rescue his other nephew Basri, who managed to survive by clinging to a stalactite for seventeen hours, only to be die at the feast later held in his honor by choking on a lamb kebab?

Alexis Smolensk said...

It is a natural cavern just like the one that should have killed Basri as it did Vedat, as the gods had formerly determined before having to come down to earth to make sure the job was done right in the end.

Andrej said...

lol

I misread that the spell had already expired above and we were close to the new entrance.

Basically, I want Sofia to be as close to the other cave mouth as she can manage and listening (not moving or splashing)when the spell expires. I am hoping that Ahmet can come along as well while making his search above.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet sticks close to Sofia and remains silent while she listens intently. (He listens as well.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

We can accommodate Sofia; you're about 15 feet, three hexes, from the opening when the spell expires.

There's no need to hear noise. As the spell ends, you hear clearly, "... well the light is coming from somewhere! Just because you can't hear anything doesn't mean -" The voice is distinctly male but offputtingly high pitched, and it is cut off by a second voice, deeply serious:

"I'm not saying it isn't. Maybe it's a will-o-wisp. We should investigate, that's all I'm saying."

"I'm not moving from this spot," says a third voice, sounding older; "I am quite comfortable -"

"You are always comfortable," says the high-pitched voice.

"And what's wrong with that? Aren't I entitled to be? Is it my fault that you don't like the rock under you?"

"It isn't the rock. It's the little jet of water that comes out of the rock. I can feel it and it keeps me awake."

"That's really too bad."

"Look," says the serious voice. "We can't just sit here and wait for -"

"Oh, stop griping," says a fourth voice, definitely a woman. "We're expecting food. That's probably what it is. Some of them are awfully quiet, aren't they? So let it be. I like them better after they get cold anyway."



Ahmet said...

Ahmet gives Sofia a "it's about to get ugly" look.

Does there seem to be enough ambient light that we can see without the torch, or can we only know that after we put it out?

Andrej said...

What Ahmet said.

Though, putting the torch out at this point might alert them more than leaving it as is.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ahmet would know that putting the torch out at this point is going to leave him and Sofia in pitch blackness.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Though you would be able to see the general entrance, it wouldn't cast enough light to help you see.

Ahmet said...

Is it absolutely silent in here (other than their conversation), or is there some noise of bubbling water that might cover the sound of our movement?

Alexis Smolensk said...

There's very little sound of moving water to help. Sofia can, more or less, move silently. Her chance of approaching something without their knowing (which would potentially include moving under the water) is in this case 3d4 minus her level in hexes. Ahmet's ability would be 3d6 in hexes; so long as Ahmet is outside that, they won't hear him.

Sorry, but I'm the one that rolls those chances.

Offhand, it sounds as though the voice might be anywhere from 40 to 60 feet away (8-12 hexes).

Alexis Smolensk said...

If Sofia doesn't want to go under water, that changes it to 3d6 minus her level.

Andrej said...

Using hand gestures, Sofia indicates she'd like Ahmet to stay put with the torch, trying his best not to move or make noise, while she moves slowly and quietly back toward the slope (not toward the voices).

Ahmet said...

Ahmet gives Sofia a quizzical look: What do you want to do?

Ahmet points to the source of the voices, then pantomimes (quite vividly) his hacking and slashing them into chunks so small even Basri couldn't choke on them.

Or...

He uses his fingers to indicate walking with his fingers, and points toward from whence they came, and mimes yanking on the rope to signal to the others.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet nods.

Andrej said...

Sofia moves quietly and slowly back toward the entrance and the rope. Without the torch, can those at the top see her well enough to notice a hand gesture such as a wave?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sofia seems to safely and quietly make her way back to the platform, where she can draw the attention of the others. This is now about 14 hexes from Ahmet ... so Sofia can see Ahmet's torch, and Ahmet can see Sofia's silhouette against the small light at the bottom fo the hole.

Ahmet quietly shivers, not just from cold, but from the adrenaline flowing through him.

The voices continue to argue a bit longer - Ahmet may have detected a fifth voice, but he's not certain. They have decided to wait and see - apparently based on the laziness of three of those who are out of sight.

Maximillian said...

I wave back at Sophia.

Andrej said...

Were any of the voices heard by Andrej and the others top-side?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh no, no, ordinary communication can't be understood beyond 60' ... and this was twice that.

Andrej said...

Good. This should mean that a careful descent will likewise not be heard by those in the other cave even without the spell.

Sofia waves the others down then returns silently to her post near Ahmet.

Andrej assists in lowering both Lukas and Max down first, then goes himself with the help of Enrico. Unless the others or Enrico objects.

Andrej directs Enrico to stay put and be ready to direct operations from above should we need to beat a hasty retreat, again unless he objects. I suppose in that event several of us could grab the rope at once and be hauled up by the horse.

All good?

Can we get a hex map of the cave now?

Maximillian said...

It works for me. I will try to be as quiet as possible while I am lowered. I stay put on the platform.

I have no confidence that we could be hauled up with any speed without someone guiding the horse up top.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet passes the torch back to Sofia and directs her to stand some distance away from the entrance... so that Ahmet is no longer illuminated by the torchlight. Ahmet then slowly and quietly moves a hex or two to one side so he is not directly in front of the entrance.

(The point is if they came into this part of the cavern to search for the source of the light, they would immediately see Sofia and the torch, five or six hexes away from the cave entrance -- but not Ahmet, who is perhaps one or two hexes away from the entrance to the side and in shadows.)

Ahmet said...

I hesitate to divide ourselves further, but perhaps we should leave Enrico and Tazio at the top, both to provide a means of escape as well as cover our rear.

Andrej said...

Sofia acts and moves as directed by Ahmet, agreeing that our best bet is for the creatures to come to us and for us to utilize what element of surprise we can manage.

Enrico and Tazio are both here? Anybody else? I had assumed only Enrico. Perhaps, then, Enrico should actually be down in the cave as befits your henchman and Tazio only remains to direct the horse. The XP will be earned down below, afterall.

I think the rear-guard, should it be necessary, will be made up of those down in the cave. We should concentrate what forces we have there, though of course the position of your henchman is your call.

Ahmet said...

The only "non-PCs" with us are Enrico, Tazio, and Sofia.

I want to level up Enrico as quickly as possible, but I'm not sure what the morale of his warhorse would be if Tazio is handling it... let alone Tazio's morale, should something unexpected happen up top.

Lukas said...

Not to be too pessimistic as I am Ahmet, but I wonder if the light idea might backfire. Consider this...

What if the creatures have darkvision or some useful equivalent. If they engage in melee they will likely be in darkness as well, this will grant you a penalty to hit them.

I feel like the likelihood of creatures that live in a cave like this having darkvision is high. And in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if their tactic will be to douse our torch and then kill us all in the cold moist darkness.

Ahmet said...

I guess I'm envisioning a scenario where we want to flee (or just make our way out after our heroic victory), tug on the rope, and the frayed end comes tumbling down to land at our feet.

Andrej said...

Fair point, Lukas, so Sofia only withdraws to a point where the cave entrance is barely illuminated. I think the cover and concealment afforded by the cave wall itself will provide Ahmet what he's looking for while drawing attention to Sofia. Once we have a map we'll be able to choose our best positions.

Ahmet, your call on the henchman but I'd be pulling Enrico down into the cave despite the concerns over morale and the horse. Our tactical advantages, should we possess any, will be surprise assuming these creatures approach us thinking us helpless food and an ability to hold that 18' wide cave mouth. For the latter we'll need bodies than can stand up front. I count Ahmet, Andrej and Enrico as a three hex front, though understand if you don't want to risk a first-level that way.

Ahmet said...

No, you're probably right that we'll need bodies up front to protect those soft squishy guys at the rear.

Enrico orders Tazio to remain with the horse, then has himself lowered down into the cave.

He unties the rope and leaves it dangling there as our escape route.

As quietly as possible, and therefore as slowly as necessary, he joins the rest of party.

Lukas said...

Do we want/can we have more torches. All we have to do is drop one and there will be NO light at all.

That is unless Andrej has a light spell, in which case we should be using THAT for sure.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I will post a hex map of the cave, with a new post. I'll depict all persons at the opening, except for Sofia and Ahmet. Ahmet should be 5 hexes from the opening; Sofia I'll depict at 8.

Please let me know if I've missed something. Give me about 20 minutes.



Andrej said...

No light spell, and think one of Lukas or Max should light another torch. Andrej has them to spare is necessary.

Andrej said...

I think you've got it Alexis.

Lukas said...

If I can cast with one in hand then both I would say. And provided I can, I do light and carry a torch of my own.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up. You can tell me about a light source if you want it there.