Monday, October 21, 2013

The Glowing Wolf

As the gnomes disappear, and as Maximillian and Enrico are suddenly there, I will remind the party that the street is still 'empty' with regards to the three of you. Your weapons seem to be accessible, but except for the ground, you're unable to interact with your environment. You suspect that you would be able to pass through doors ... however, Maximillian might caution that while you could not "see" through a door, a creature might still be able to smell you, and that therefore 'hiding' behind a wall or a door could actually be more of a detriment to you than it would be to an enemy.

The wolf, for example, that appears through the wall at 3 o'clock in the square, moving slowly, slavering from its enormous jaws, sizing up the three members of the party.

It is enormous for a wolf, easily 350 pounds, with a snout and head the size of a lion; it's paws are great spreading pads with toes slightly separate, more so than an ordinary wolf ... and the whole body is glowing a very definite green - not in the manner of a modern radiation might be portrayed by a bad film, but as the bioluminescence produced by an octopus or a lightning bug. In the light of day it is barely detectable; in the night, Maximillian (who knows such things as a druid) would guess that it would illuminate an area 10 feet in radius.

The creature paws the ground, and clearly moves its head from one to another of you, choosing its victim.

Now, I'd like to do this without having to produce a map. So read this very carefully and make NO assumptions. This should be very simple.

The square is not very large, only 40 feet across. There's no where to hide, since the wolf can move through things (evidently). Likely, the wolf could travel the whole square and attack any of you, because it is big enough and - as a wolf - probably fast enough. The most dangerous thing about a wolf is that it will go for the throat - and if it hits with a critical, it will likely tear your head right off (does 4x damage on a 20).

Please recognize that using a missile weapon will not exempt you from attack. Hiding directly behind someone else MIGHT, if that protector is willing to be hit on your behalf. So please, if you will throw a spell, pick a protector FIRST. There won't be space to hide behind someone if you're swinging a sling or loading a bow, just so you know.

Remember, how many feet you are from the wolf doesn't matter. It can attack you anywhere.

Let's assume that if you want to attack directly in hand-to-hand melee, the wolf is in so many places at once that you can probably move close enough in a given round and attack.

You should all be at full hit points. In this particular case, the first move will probably have to be made by the wolf - or by you moving towards the wolf and then the wolf springing. Either way, can we start by having Ahmet roll initiative.

75 comments:

Lukas said...

As the gnomes disappear, Lukas' second thought is... How am I going to leave?

As the wolf appears and his companions appear as well, his fourth thought is how are WE going to leave?

That said, the first and second thought is what wolf? and oh THAT wolf respectively.

Lukas said...

Sorry first and third.

Maximillian Boii said...

Heh, I was wondering the same thing about leaving, Lukas...

Ahmet said...

Sorry, back.

Ahmet rolls a 4.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I roll a 3. The wolf comes at Ahmet, but Ahmet and party can take first action.

Maximillian Boii said...

I hide behind Ahmet and cast Shillelagh.

Lukas said...

Lukas decides that there is only so much Ahmet to hide behind and throws a dart at the wolf.

d20: 14 (12 +1 +1)
d3: 3

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Oh sure, everyone line up behind me like we're on line at the DMV. :) )

Ahmet draws Dilmek and swings at the wolf.

To hit: 17
Damage: 10

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's a good start!

A 17 hits, stunning the beast. It cries like an enormous furnace blowing out wind, and staggers back on its hind feet.

Lukas' dart fails to penetrate the wolf's hide.

Maximillian, your shillelagh is cast.

Please, all of you, take another action.

Maximillian Boii said...

I rush up and attack it as well.
d20+1+1:4 (argh!)

Ahmet said...

Emboldened, Ahmet swings again:

To hit: 19 (rolled a 17)
Damage: 9

"Lukas, what are we fighting and why?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ahmet is keeping the creature at bay; it is stunned again.

Lukas said...

Seeing the wolf staggered by but one blow Lukas throws another dart...

"A 'wolf' and it's hungry?"
Is his less confident reply.

D20: nat 20, 9 (7 +1 +1)
D3: 2

Alexis Smolensk said...

Did you double the damage you rolled, Lukas?

Lukas said...

I'm sorry, I did not. That would be 4 if doubled.

Alexis Smolensk said...

If you roll a natural 20, do not forget to double the damage you do.

Lukas' dart strikes the creature in the eye, and it promptly dies ... though it does not leave a body behind. Rather, it discorporates into a mist, which slowly dissappates over a forty-second interval ... the party cannot help but watch it.

Lukas said...

After a complete discorporation, Lukas looks to his companions,

"So.. I guess we're in the ethereal plane, and some gnomes want me to keep the book. Though they said there are some other folks not as kind who might learn of it's existence."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet glances around warily. "Quick, wizard, return us before another of those creatures appears."

Maximillian Boii said...

Lukas? What do we do now?

Ahmet said...

Now that combat is over, Ahmet has a moment to take in the ghost-like nature of his surroundings.

"Are we... dead?"

Lukas said...

Lukas shrugs, "Well perhaps however YOU got here might be an exit? I didn't exactly come here willingly or by means I even understand completely."

Lukas ponders...

"How did you get here anyhow?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

You hear a voice behind you that shrieks, "YOU IDIOTS!"

Alexis Smolensk said...

There is the blind gnome, who has appeared where he was on the stump. His face shows - despite the lack of eyes - the level of his fury, which is considerable.

"Why did you not just let it strike you?"

Maximillian Boii said...

To Lukas: That's how...

Lukas said...

Lukas is taken aback at this sudden appearance of a yelling gnome.

"The verbage of the previous gnomes I spoke to implied 'handling a wolf' not getting handled by a wolf. Furthermore I tend to defy getting bit by most things, especially things with such big teeth."

Maximillian Boii said...

I approach the gnome.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The gnome answers, "Striking you would have sent you back to your normal plane of existence!" says the gnome. "It would have bloodied you a bit, but you could have relied upon the clerics in the square to heal you! Now that opportunity is lost. Do you have any idea what you've done?"

Maximillian Boii said...

"No," I say. "Perhaps you should tell us."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"The Astral Wolf is not the deadliest thing about," says the gnome, lowering his forehead ominously at Maximillian. "Any other creature might send you back again, but it was counted on that something small enough not to kill you would appear. Would you prefer to face one of the Princes of the Undead??? Or perhaps a dragon would suit your fancy?"

Maximillian Boii said...

And what, pray tell, is your fancy?
Did you prefer to watch a Punch and Judy show? Are we Marionettes not dancing to your liking?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet wanders about on the square (though taking care not to get too far from his comrades), examining things, trying to pick things up, seeing if he can pass through a tree.

"This truly is Jahannam -- to be tortured for eternity with nothing but shrieking gnomes and weakling wolves for sport, and you two for company!"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"You stupid fool," says the gnome. "Did I ask you to touch my staff? Did I not tell you your friend was safe? Did we not arrange to have clerics nearby so that when your friend came back, he would be cared for? Did I tell you to kill the wolf? And on top of that, as if your idiocy weren't enough, you disparage me for taking the same risk as you, by coming onto this plane ALSO, to save your stupid lives! If it weren't for HIM -" the gnome points at Lukas "- I'd have as soon ignored you and let some beast finish you off! I did not need to come here. I was asked to come just IN CASE something went wrong. Well, wrong it has gone, and rather that recognize the very thin thread upon which your pathetic, ignorant life hangs by, you choose to chide me by calling me your puppet!"

He is clearly infuriated.

"Very well." He drops his staff and throws his hands at you. "Here are your STRINGS! Get out of this yourselves!"

He snaps up his staff and begins to walk towards the road whereby the party entered, at 6 o'clock on the square.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: he meant to say 'calling me your puppeteer" ... but he is angry)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet moans. "Why did I listen to Father Andrej? Now I have been cast out as an apostate. The worst part of my suffering is I will never again see my father, or my uncles, or my cousins, or my nephews, or my cousin's nephews..."

Maximillian Boii said...

Did anything happen when he said here are your strings? or was he just throwing me the imaginary marionette strings?

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Ah... I read that wrong. I thought he threw down the staff.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

He is just throwing imaginary marionette strings. He's mocking you.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Another few moments and he'll be out of sight ...

Andrej said...

(OOC: You might want to start apologizing and begging for help... just saying. ;) )

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Frustrating, isn't it? I can guess how hard it is for you not to say something, Andrej.

I never insist a party follow any particular course of action. They're entitled to let the gnome go. I don't want to be accused of running a railroad)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I'm just waiting for Lukas. I figure this is his show.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: While we're waiting, all this talk of puppets on strings reminds me of the song in this awesome commercial -- "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I'm done for the day; I had hoped the side adventure would be done, but you all did very well with the wolf.

Lukas, in your good time, we can move forward)

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC: I think this anger at being kept in the dark on Maximillian's part is anachronistic, but I do not have the instincts of a low-born person of the time. I mention this because I am unsure how to proceed, and find myself mistrusting my own instincts. My inclination is to press the issue, staying close to the gnome, who as far as Max is concerned orchestrated our very predicament, and is now blaming us for it.)

Maximillian Boii said...

(ooc: Also, Max feels "railroaded" by the gnomes,or something akin to that. I do not feel railroaded by you.)

Lukas said...

(OOC: Apologies, everything explodes at inconvenient times... or does everything exploding always happen to be inconvenient?)

Lukas, having lost track of things by a slight sense of despair in getting lost in such an alien place AND the insane logic that the best way out is to be mauled by a giant beast finally shakes out of it.

"Master gnome! Master gnome! I deeply apologize for my insolent companions! They are really a quite dull and close minded bunch. Please! I truly would not want to be lost here without a guide nor would I wish you have risked yourself in vain!"

He hopefully catches up...

"I'm sure would they had the sense to realize the predicament they were in, or understand how little they know as I am beginning to realize, they would take much care not to be so insulting of one such as yourself!"

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Maximillian, I think that's always the issue with playing a 'character' as opposed to simply playing the game to live - you're always put into the situation of having to insult someone important or helpful because you imagine that's what your character would do. Hm. Subject probably needs a post)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The gnome turns to Lukas. "What your friends obviously don't understand is that it is difficult to hop back and forth between planes of existence. I can no more send myself back right this instant than I could send you. To do so, I will need to recharge my staff, and that will require sea water ... and we are right now 500 yards from the sea. That is 500 yards we must traverse upon a plane where the creatures here have only one mandate - to drive off interlopers from the plane, which they do by striking or otherwise destroying them. This is a way back, but not the most convenient way ... and as such, it is helpful to have someone on the other side who can help if things here go wrong."

He points at Ahmet. "That one threatened me, so I dared offer him a way onto this plane. I should not have done that. I did not know he would bring his companion along also. I certainly did not know he would kill the beast. I expected a blow might teach him a lesson, but now here we all are. Well, blame accepted."

Alexis Smolensk said...

The gnome continues. "I will lead you to the sea, where I will send you back ... but you must follow me or else we will not reach there without an encounter. Come on."

And he starts down the street, descending along where the carts were climbing, until he comes to a lane where there are stairs downwards.

Lukas said...

Lukas waves to his companions, "Ahmet! Your great uncle did not bemoan his fate in the great camel stampede the least you can do is flail as he did. Follow me and perhaps we have a chance. Max, follow me and we might not get eaten."

Lukas follows the gnome. "I suppose attempting to understand this plane better during this 500 yards would be asking too much?"

Ahmet said...

Lukas's words rouse Ahmet from his lamentations. He hurries after them. "A way back to the land of the living? Lead on!"

Alexis Smolensk said...

The gnome, his blindness compensated for by his cane, his hands and apparently his near perfect knowledge of the city, draws you down the stairs into the lane, and thence to a side street, across a thoroughfare and then through a series of switchback stairwells leading further and further down, towards the water. "The ethereal plane exists as a reflection," says the gnome. "Think of it as an architect's rendering laid open under the very fabric of existence. It stretches beneath every space upon this plane, and indeed upon every plane, so that if you were to travel within the ethereal through the door into the ethereal dimension of another plane, you would yet remain in the ethereal AND be in that other plane simultaneously ... just as you are right now in the ethereal and the Prime Material plane simultaneously."

He pauses to make his way from the lane onto a ledge extending from a massive building that might be some sort of guard tower or barracks. The ledge is only two feet wide, but the gnome manages it easily. The party finds, following him, that they are quickly twenty, then thirty, then forty feet off the ground.

"This means that, had you the power, you could shift back and forth from the ethereal plane to the ordinary plane at will ... I am told some mages do this with a spell called 'blink,' and others besides. Alas, I am not capable of these things."

He begins to descend down stairs that are also attached to the building, as narrow as the ledge. He stops, turning his ear to the distance. "Lo - is something there?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

As you look, you can see a large humanoid figure, perhaps three stories tall, some hundreds of yards away, strolling through the physical forms of apartment blocks, some shorter, some taller, than the giant ... so that it disappears and reappears as it walks obliquely to your position. It does not see you, or know of your existence; it is only that you happen to see it. "I can only hear," says the gnome. "Has it seen us?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet readies Dilmek. "I think not, no," he hisses to the gnome. "It is a djinn, three stories high."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Then let us move on."

He descends the stairs, then reaches his arm through a door before walking through it, disappearing from sight. You pause for a moment or two, then hear him calling you to come on. Trepidatiously, you experimentally move through the door, then find yourselves unharmed.

"Things are solid only because you will them to be," says the gnome, leading you now through a vast kitchen and mess hall, where you presume there would be people but whom you cannot see. "Something like a floor or a ledge, these things are easy for the untrained mind. You habitually imagine them as solid, and so they are. Something small, like a pebble or a leaf, would take a great deal of discipline. You might have wondered, what if you had fallen just now as we traversed the stairs. Would you have died? Very possibly, and just in the normal fashion. But had you done so, you would have discorporated here, in the ethereal; you would not be dead, your spirit would live, and become another shadow haunting this world searching for those who did not belong."

He moves through another door, into the street.

"Perhaps you wonder why the doors do not open, or the pots in the kitchen do not move, as they are manipulated by people in the prime material, that I have said we also occupy. They do not because we are in a sense frozen in time. Time passes, but we do not perceive the passing. We do not see the movement because we are insensitive to it; once again, to see otherwise takes discipline, which we do not possess."

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: as a DM, I was required to roll the dice on the ethereal encounters table in the DMG; I don't know if you've seen the table, but it is a scary freakin' thing. I am estimating that the gnome has a fifty percent chance of getting you down to the sea without an encounter; I'm just going to roll the die now to see if he successfully does that)

Lukas said...

"I noticed we did not see the sea of carts or the people when we were in the clearing with the wolf... What determines what we do or do not see?

Here I see a pot, it is an inanimate object that someone may manipulate, there I did not see a cart, another inanimate object I might manipulate..."

Lukas is genuinely curious, though presumably it might not be an easy question.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"You will see objects that were at rest at the moment of your transition. If we were to compare our observances, because you and I crossed at different times, we would learn we did not see the same things, the same objects on the ground."

Within a few more minutes, the gnome leads you down to within sight of the sea ... the Golden Horn, an estuary/inlet for a small river that flows down from the hills west of Constantinople, that meets with the narrow Bosporus and helps isolate the principal city.

Lukas said...

(OOC: Is all the water in the estuary missing? ;) )

"Access to this plan seems to be a VERY useful tactical capability. It's dangers might outweigh that risk, but if it were used properly... I can only imagine whoever controlled this access would be quite powerful."

Lukas thinks this out loud, then realizes the company and notes the obviousness of the statement.

Alexis Smolensk said...

No, the water is present; like the ground, you're able to grasp it with your mind.

I have rolled and there is no encounter. You reach the water's edge, and the blind gnome submerses his entire staff into the water. Then he reaches it out for the party to take hold of it.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet does so.

Lukas said...

Lukas does so as well.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Maximillian sees Ahmet and Lukas disappear.

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC: sorry to keep you waiting, I ended up being out of commission all morning.

I thank the gnome for explaining this strange place, and apologize for my disrespect earlier. As I am reaching for his staff, I say "My companions and I could be valiant and faithful servants. I don't think we make good pawns."

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Don't worry, I just have to play the game by the book. I don't presume on your character unless I absolutely have to and that's why I left the adventure open-ended)

The gnome draws back his staff so that Maximillian finds himself grasping air. "You seem most put out and determined to insult me and my efforts to save your life - which I have just done." says the gnome. "I would like to know why."

Lukas said...

(OOC: I would not be as concerned had Andrej been with us. I don't like leaving a man behind... Even if it is in safety.)

Maximillian Boii said...

Forgive me, Siur, but it would appear that my very life hangs on your whim. If you would truly know, I must first ask, nay beg, for my life to be spared. I can give you no reason to save my life, but for the protection I can provide to my companion and what he carries.
Please, also, do not confuse my dissatisfaction with your... organization, with displeasure at you, personally. It is true that since I first spoke to you, you have shown no inclination to do me, nor my friends, harm, and I am appreciative for what help you have been able to give us.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Maximillian, you don't really want me to post that comment on the main blog for public consumption, do you? I'm holding it in reserve. [there are far, far less readers of this blog, than of that one]

I am not frustrated at this time. I have dealt with those issues. All I am doing here is playing an NPC who cannot figure out why you would choose to accuse him of the things you have, when in fact he is just as much a servant of the Big Machine as your proport to be. You've made an assumption, that's all ... that he's blind and capable and therefore mysterious, and therefore obviously has great power. In fact, he's about 6th level, has a single magic item, is a thief by trade and probably wouldn't survive a straight one-on-one battle with Ahmet; though his tactic would probably be to disappear into some hole or something he knows about.

So, you see, in that light, in the knowledge I have about the blind gnome, you are WAY over-reacting to him; that's why this looks so strange on the surface. You're telling HIM that you're not his slave, and to him that's insulting because he never said you were, he's not happy about having to risk his own life to save you - he only has 31 hit points - and all he's getting in return is your abuse. See what I'm saying?

Careful about making assumptions about people and things. Don't presume you're speaking to the master thief of the world when in fact you're only talking to a disgruntled, bitter minion. You only make enemies when you accuse and demand, when in fact you could be making friends ... which is, in fact, the way this is NOT a railroad; because this particular NPC could be either, depending on the way you play it.

Shall we just assume he's given some speech that an old man would give to an upstart lad, assume you've been touched by the staff and move on?)

Maximillian Boii said...

That works for me.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I would have liked a bit more response, given how much I wrote, but no matter.

I was going to start a new thread and move on, but I've just spent a bunch of time adding information about Cumana for the eventual campaign there, and I've got to apply myself elsewhere - I think I'll convert all that into a post on the main blog, though, for general interest.

I will get to the campaign later if I'm able.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: sorry, you can see the Cumana stuff on the first Constantinople post from last week)

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC: finally responding to the rest of your comment.
I admit, the thought never crossed my mind that that particular gnome could be dissatisfied with his circumstances. So that's my mistake and I deserve the consequences of that. I did see mysterious power in his cross-planar vision and assumed something about his role.

I'm trying to express why I think my actions were not absurd, but it just feels whiny, so I'm stopping.
Suffice it to say, I do feel some measure of anger was justified -- These gnomes are doing us no favors. but I clearly should have kept that to myself, or to the party. In this modern life, I've gotten used to never having to stand for getting yelled at for something that is not my problem.

There is a point to this; I'm trying to reach a place where I can play Max and there would be an understanding that I do have a thesis, and that I'm not seeking death, nor seeing just how far I can push the limits. In pursuit of that, I will heed your advice to be careful what I assume, and to generally exercise caution.

Thanks for dissecting this with me.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I want you to think very clearly about this statement: "In this modern life, I've gotten used to never having to stand for getting yelled at ..."

At this very moment I'm getting 'yelled at' quite profoundly ... and being in a position where there is nothing to do but 'stand it.' So perhaps I don't comprehend your viewpoint.

People in the world are going to fuck you over, Maximillian. That's part and parcel with saying an NPC has their own agenda. People in the world are also going to back you in ways that would never occur to you. I'm never going to let you know which is which, because my agenda as a DM is to keep you guessing and to keep your adrenaline and dopamine levels at their highest level. That's what makes this addictive.

Occasionally, this will mean you feel a bit 'dicked around' by events; of course you should blame me. I'm inventing the NPCs. But have faith that my motivation is to produce obstacles and drama - and NOT just to be a fucktard. Have faith that I am always thinking of the quality of the game, and not my gratification from it)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.

Maximillian Boii said...

Yeah, too bad about the whole ydis thing. I never would have gone there but for your link. I have to wonder whether they see the visitors as success.

My usual approach to that sort of thing is not helpful to you, because you are purposefully putting yourself out there. If it were me, I'd put it in the same category as someone yelling from the next car over. "What? I can't hear you?"

About the game. I'm having a really hard time communicating this (apparently) but I was using the anger as a tool, the way one might when speaking to tech support. I don't think that you were dicking with me, or us, out of any form of pettiness.

I guess at this point it doesn't matter whether that males sense _now_ it clearly didn't initially, which is what I need to work on going forward.

Thanks.