Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Kerch Strait

Thursday night, May 20th, 1651
The Kerch Strait, 850 yards due east of the city of Cherzeti, Crimea
With overcast skies and pleasant temperatures, with a moderate breeze prevailing from the south, along with a thunderstorm marked by heavy rain.

Moon: waxing gibbous, 4 days before the full moon.

As the wind begins to rise out at sea, blowing north and rough, the sea begins to rise and the Captain comes on deck for the first time to give orders for the ship to sail full on for the Strait.  Within an hour land is sighted, by which time the sea is choppy and filled with white caps.  The sky darkens, both with the oncoming night and the black clouds of the first thunderstorm the party has seen this year . . . and the Petrel begins to fly across the sea under full sail.

By the time the Strait is reached, it is full night, and every soul on board, from party to peasant to child, is hard pressed to move water up from the hold to where it can be tossed overboard.  The ship is tight, fast and under control, but the rain is profound in volume.  At one point, as Maximillian is on deck, having been seized by the collar and forced to join a gang to hold the sail to keep it from tearing, the Spaniard next to hi, Milogros, shouts that if he had his hands free to take off his hat, he could catch it full of rain in a minute . . . and Maximillian, soaked to the bone, believes it.

All about, lightning flashes on every horizon, and seeems to threaten the masts as it flashes and forks overhead.

It seems impossible that there could be a patrol ship out on a night like this.  Most of the navy of the Ottomans, particularly in the Black Sea - so Dumont, the Walloon, tells Lukas - are galleys, and galleys do not fare well in poor weather.  "You must hand it to the Captain!" shouts Dumont, as he waits for Maurice the cook to sew up a wound he's gotten from being tossed across the deck, "She knows damn well how to avoid company!"

In the dead of night, without even seeing the lights of Cherzeti on the shore, the Petrel's Wing steals its way into the sea of Azov.  As the night wears on, the rain slackens, and the cloudy skies break towards the east. The dim glow of approaching dawn can be seen, across a calming sea, with the last great fortress of the Ottomans left behind.


Lukas said...

Well I definitely salute the captain on that one.

And galleys not being good in bad weather is a good thing to remember.

If ever we invest in our own ship, I think we should ensure it is bad weather friendly if possible.

Andrej said...

Relieved and appreciative, Andrej offers up a prayer all may acknowledge with an amen should they be so inclined. Provided the work of bailing water is now done, he checks on his families, his slaves and our goods.

Alexis Smolensk said...

All seems to be in order, and no one injured. There was quite a lot of terror, however, and the families are shaking. The purchased slaves, along with Mist and Sevim, are making sure everyone is fed, that the children are cared for and held while the adults sleep and so on. Sevim in particular has been moving about the ship all night, carrying soup in iron cups to different persons aboard ship, always below decks, to keep them healthy and warm. Ahmet cannot help having noticed her - as have the rest of the crew - sweaty, dress knotted above her knees, hair straggling and wet, yet robust and full of effort.

Lukas said...

Oh, if there are any sensitive parts of the ship, that need drying, I offer up my dry spell and of course the material spell for repairs if needed.

Other potentially useful spells I offer up...
Sneeze (colds)
Clean (Jammed up stuff?)
Shine (removes rust)
Warm (Any hypothermia? Weather temperature implied no)

These are my general offerings to the crew as well as anything else that seems relevant.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The crew will take you up on all of them, Lukas. Hypothermia, incidentally, can take effect at anything below body temperature. Quite a lot of people die in the woods in full summer because they think the mid-70s are warm enough to leave on their wet clothing.

Maximillian, it actually takes you almost two hours to find one of your two puppies, that has somehow found its way into the space below the bottom hold of the ship, where it nearly drowns . . .

Lukas said...

These are daily offerings as well. Just assume I spend some time each day ensuring everything I can do, I have done.

I'm fairly certain my combat spells will not be relevant to day to day ship activities.

Otherwise I'm ready to see what happens next and have little interest in being proactive except to check on the vardo, Hichem and my precious items.

Lukas said...

Hrm, let me rephrase that. As assumptions are bad.

Each day we start aboard the ship and intend to end aboard the ship, I spend the morning casting spells that appear useful. Material I cast proactively based on the fact they pretty much always need wood and furthermore we have lots of wood shaping supplies.

I do NOT cast Sleep, Magic Missile, Acid Arrow, Charm Person or Push.

Andrej said...

Andrej takes special care in thanking Sevim for taking such initiative and seeing to the families, but acknowledges the efforts of the slaves as well. He thanks the crew and should opportunity arise, the Captain as well. He offers blessings to all of them.

The families he tries to calm and distract with storytelling. Religious ones, yes... but he picks a handful of those very human and somewhat universally Abrahamic stories from the Old Testament to relate. Nothing too preachy, mind you. Given time and acceptance, if not outright appreciation, he talks of Cumana, attempting to paint vivid and positive portraits of the land.

Otherwise, I suppose we resume our normal shipboard habits.

Maximillian Boii said...

This was one of the most thrilling adventures max has yet encountered, and the feeling of LIVING that he has afterwards will take days to fade into the background. Some of the old hands on deck may find it amusing, but I trust his ebullience is so good natured that proclaiming camaraderie at every available turn will not prove annoying.

If anyone was injured, I'll add my healing to Lukas' spells.

(OOC: I thought since there were no dogs available that I didn't get puppies. were you meaning that I could get puppies as an inferior sort of dog by asking around? Fantastic! would it be over the top to name them Romulus and Remus?)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Maximillian, I thought when I offered that I could give you puppies, there being no dogs for sale at the market, that this was taken up. I see that we've been unclear on that, and that we've clear now. Great. Yes, please assume two puppies, of the Turkish breed you were speaking on earlier.

I'd like to hear from Ahmet before I move forward.

Ahmet said...

Sorry, just getting back.

Ahmet thanks Sevim (and less effusively, Mistassa) for her hard work and courage, and has taken to glaring not at her but at any man whose gaze lingers upon her for too long.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Plenty of that to go around, I'm sure. These are sailors.

(OOC: just going to eat lunch for half an hour, then I'll post what happens in the morning)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet advises Sevim and Mistassa to remain belowdecks and away from the sailors. "I wouldn't want you to see you covered in sea men," he says.


Alexis Smolensk said...

In the morning, the Captain assembles the passengers aboard the ship, the party and serfs, and explains that because she is in need of a galley, she has decided to seize one. The galleys from Cherzeti hug the south coast of the Sea of Azov, so she expects to catch one along the coast. She hopes to catch one this day, that spent the night on a beach overnight, for galleys are usually pulled onto the shore during storms.

She would wait where she is, and claim the next one that comes from Cherzeti, but she recognizes that she has agreed to take the party to Cumana. She tells that she put Detweiller and his party off the ship at the mouth of the river Rosk in Cumana, and not in Azov. Azov is in a swamp, and there are no roads from Azov to Cumana. Moroever, the swamp is full of smugglers.

So she will endeavor to put the party off the ship at the mouth of the Rosk. However, if in the next four days, the time it will take to reach the Rosk, they encounter a galley, she intends to seize it.

If the party so desires, she is ready to put them off the ship still in the town of Aryak, 40 miles west of Cherzeti, and 10 hours sail from where you are now. Aryak is on the south shore of the Sea of Azov, in Kubanistan, which is yet controlled by the Ottomans.

Otherwise, with things being as they are, the party may continue along with her.

Lukas said...

The being dropped off at the mouth of Rosk sounds reasonable given the reasoning.

The only counterpoint is if we need to get these non-adventurers off the ship asap.

Lukas said...

Maybe we should talk to Sevim about her thoughts on the civilians.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sevim will always defer to Ahmet.

Maximillian Boii said...

I am fine with either course.

Andrej said...

I vote stay. So far, so good.

Alexis Smolensk said...

If that is three in favour of staying on the ship, I can move forward. Will you confirm, Maximillian, that you'll support Lukas and Andrej?

Ahmet said...

Unsurprisingly Ahmet votes to stay on board.

Ahmet privately speaks to Sevim to ask for her thoughts on the civilians. Even if she defers to him in public, perhaps she'll make her feelings known to him in public.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Good, then it is settled.

Imagine, if you will, that I am rolling four die 6, in order, to see if something happens between your present location and the mouth of the Rosk. A 1 would indicate the discovery of a ship of some sort.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The first day would be a 2.

Ahmet said...

...perhaps she'll make her feelings known to him in private. Bleh.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The second day would be a 3.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The third day would also be a 3.

Ahmet said...

Come on, lucky number four!

Alexis Smolensk said...

And the fourth day would be a 6.

You encounter nothing before arriving at the mouth of the Rosk ... so we will of course begin there with Monday.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I hope you all have a happy easter.

Tell me, how does it feel to finally set foot on the destination the party left for, real time, TWENTY MONTHS ago.

Alexis Smolensk said...

When you left Lubeck.

Ahmet said...

Surreal! I've had jobs that haven't lasted as long as this campaign. :)

Maximillian Boii said...

That's a great run.

Andrej said...

It feels GREAT. It's not just the twenty months, but all the stuff that has happened between then and now. Max, for instance, joined only halfway along the trip to get here and he's already a regular with a level or two under his belt.

I can't wait for our small-scale domain management phase to begin... with plenty of blood and thunder to keep the XP rolling in too, of course.

Be well.

Lukas said...

Not to be a downer, because I do enjoy every time I get an opportunity to post on here and explore the world with you guys, but...

I don't think I'm getting the... dopamine hit from making it here?

Perhaps it's because my personal goals have no specific location in mind?

I think my first big hit will be seeing the yields of the first harvest, or having fended off an attack from marauding enemies.

Don't get me wrong, getting here was a great adventure with all it's own highs and lows, but pulling into port isn't giving me that hit.

Don't worry, I anticipate one eventually. I just don't feel it pulling into port right now.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Well, that's probably my fault somehow Lukas. Perhaps I'm not working as hard with you and Maximillian to give focus to your characters. Things could improve there.

Gentlemen. I did not progress as far with my book over this last three-day weekend as I had hoped. Steadily, week by week, I am getting into more and more trouble.

I have for a month now closed both my offline campaigns. I haven't seen much of the world outside my bedroom. As things get closer, I'm going to have to narrow my focus more and more.

At present - and I hate to do this - I'm going to have to suspend play here for a week. This blog takes up an enormous amount of my energy, more than does the main blog, where I can chuck out a post and then ignore it for most of the day. It isn't so much the time, but the creative energy that takes away from the problem solving elements of getting the book finished.

You all know I'll be back, so do not worry. But I am going to have to step back from the table for awhile. My life is not likely to be fully mine again until late June or July. If then.

Andrej said...

Alexis, I understand perfectly and a delayed campaign is a small price to pay for your finished book. Be well and good writing. I'll check in periodically to see how its coming.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I am right now locked into the last technical aspect of the book, the 'design process,' or how to design a world, sometimes called a 'modelling process.' Lukas I think will understand perfectly where I am with those.

There really isn't any way to write this section of the book without recognizing that its possible to go right down the rabbit hole and never come out. How, exactly, do you limit the content on how much you want to write about the actual designing of the world? I've already spoken of function, behavior, creating the world concept, following through with testing and decision making on what the world wants to be - the one section I have left is the actual Structure of the world. How do you go about making the world's structure, that is basically the problem.

So much fun.

I had wanted this part of the book completed by this weekend ... but in fact I only started on this last section, what I'm guessing will be about sixty pages, last night. I'm a bit stressed by it. That puts me at least a week behind, which frustrates me. The darn creative section proved a bit overwhelming at points, but I feel I'm on top of that.

The real issue is when I'm going to be able to restart the book again and really smooth out the language and tighten comprehension. I've been fighting for what seems forever (five months) with the exact content of the book. I can see that content now (yay) but I haven't actually finished writing it out.

This is how it is coming along.

Butch said...

Alexis, take your time. We'll be here when you're ready to come back up for air.

Ahmet said...

Since we're suspended anyway, maybe now is a good time for the party members to discuss our goals and motivations, hopes and fears?

Maximillian Boii said...

Alexis, I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate all the work you put into this campaign. Please take all the time you need, we'll figure out how to pick up the pieces when you're ready.

Lukas said...

Indeed. Thank you for all the work you have done so far. I can be patient until you have more time.

Andrej said...

Sure Ahmet. I'll start. I think my goals are pretty well known at this point, if there are any questions about where I think I'm headed I'd be happy to answer them.

I hope that we ultimately settle upon the site of present-day Tagnarog and I hope there's something there we can build from. As far as permanent structures go, Andrej will want to quickly build/ renovate a secure church of some kind with space for all of us. Long term ideally we all move out from this building as what I hope will eventually be a trade center grows up around us.

I hope Andrej can attract and convert followers right away and will work to do so.

I hope we find a decent market close by.

I hope by this winter we get some indication that boats or caravans will be stopping in on their way West as we predicted.

I hope Madame Salvador sticks around as a recurring NPC and I hope we can live in peace with her.

I'd like that when play does resume, or maybe just before it really resumes, we start back up with a post to situate Sofia and the othersto tie up any loose ends in Kofunisia and get those who are coming started toward Cumana.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet's short-term goal is (aside from making next level) to see the mission established, obviously not for any religious reason but out of loyalty/respect for Andrej.

He's thinking this can be accomplished relatively quickly, and with all the guards there will be nothing for him to do here, and then he will move on to new adventures elsewhere. Of course he's undoubtedly wrong in that assumption.

Long range? Ideally Sevim and Mistassa would find happiness here and he would leave them behind to sail the seven seas with Madame Salvador (does he even know her first name yet?) as her first mate/concubine, stopping along the way to give Fatima some or all of the 10,000 g.p. he owes her.

Lukas said...

Short term goals:
Get to settlement site.
Find decent foundation.
Hit level 5.
-Get apprentice?

Regular Term Goals:
Begin construction of Storage tower.
Get scribing supplies.
Get laboratory.
Build temporary bookshelves.

Long Term Goals:
Finish entire mage 'tower'.
Establish teleportation system.
Every other goal on my TO DO.

Ahmet said...

Do you have a particular locale in mind for that tower, or would Cumana suit you?

Lukas said...

Anywhere where explosions will inflict the least amount of permanent damage?

No, anywhere should work.

My goal is that it will be my lab/fort. Ideally it will have a form of teleportation circle thingy built into the construction eventually, but we'll see if I can ever figure that out.

Ahmet said...

I should add that Ahmet also has a moderate term of goal of raising that 10,000 gold that he owes Fatima. So as long as he's finding plunder in Cumana, he's in no rush to leave.

Lukas said...

I'm working on a spreadsheet calculator to automatically calculate the amount of stone required to construct the tower, but I need to do some research on construction of castle/keep INTERIORS.

There's all kinds of stuff I've already seen on the fortifications, the arrangement of walls and towers and whatnot, but I must admit ignorance on the way they actually constructed the ceiling/floor between floors and standards in wall construction.

Right now I can calculate the cubic feet of stone I need for any areas that are stone, but I'm not so certain on supporting construction and whether or not certain parts are X feet thick or even if they would necessarily be made of stone.

I'll be starting in on that research this week I think, but if anyone has some good resources I wouldn't mind a few tips to shorten my time spent googling.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Very interesting stuff, Lukas. I'm anxious to see your results (I'll adjust my cost tables if you give me good numbers).

In less pleasant news, all, I'm very sorry. I'm going to have to be a selfish prick and suspend this campaign indefinitely. I was hoping I could just get on top of things, but in spite of my working effectively two jobs last week, there are always issues I just cannot seem to manage in the time I have.

Yesterday my adventure to the Calgary Comic Convention was encouraging; I'm no longer worried about whether I can handle the convention problem. Right now, I am concerned with keeping healthy and fit, and that means keeping my stress to a minimum.

I will be thinking on this campaign, and I promise that I am as anxious to get back to it as you. I feel at the moment, however, that this book could be an amazing chance for me - if I had had copies of the book in my hand yesterday, I would have been able to sell them cold to people there.

It hurts that this campaign has to be shelved - but I would remind all that my two offline campaigns have been shelved since March.

Be well, keep healthy, stay in touch, and know that I am thinking of your characters.

Andrej said...

Alexis, I'm also excited about this chance for you and have a very real desire to have your book on my shelf soon. Take whatever time you need. Our history suggests the campaign can survive an indefinite hiatus so while I'm anxious to keep playing I know if we put it off it won't be forever.

Ahmet said...

Good luck and we'll be waiting. :)

Lukas said...

Well, I'll be checking in.

Perhaps we could get a Hiatus post for pondering over construction and whatnot.

I'd be interested in the other players' opinions on my ambitious long term goals with the construction.

As for the 'calculator', it's very specific, it's more for not having to calculate the effective area occupied by barrel vaulting or star vaulting... hrm... 20x4ish times? Also the area of circles and whatnot. Needless to say the spreadsheet is for avoiding manual use of Pi over and over.

I'm using a circular tower design, and am picking apart what area is occupied by stone. After I got over the 'duh barrel vaulting' moment, it's just a matter of making sure all the numbers work correctly.

I'm aiming to over estimate rather than under estimate, but I'll send you my results for review.

Essentially it's breaking down the circle into concentric rings (the design of the tower) and breaking down whether each ring is barrel vaulted, star vaulted or not. It uses the habitable height for wall height, the width of each ring for barrel vault height (assumes full half circle even though usually they are not a half circle, but it's easier to math) and has me fill in the wall widths throughout the tower.

Essentially I'm going floor by floor with a basic plan, then am going to add walls for each room I want within the concentric circle as additive stone.

My 'tower' will be composed of three of these things, but the biggest one is the test project as it's the most irregular.

James C. said...

Will the spreadsheet take into account that these rings are being stacked one on top of the other, and make the lower levels thicker or better supported than the upper?

Lukas said...

I'm doing that part.

Lukas said...

The 20x4 is an estimate I have 3 towers that each currently have 4, 4 and 6 floors planned currently with 2 and 1 floors of basement.

Each tower will get progressively thicker outer walls, and the inner ones I'm still mathing.

Essentially I still don't have particularly good numbers on inside walls, but outer walls I have a few numbers on. And the numbers are multiple hexes in size.

Ahmet said...

I'd also like to hear Max's short/medium/long term goals, if he's willing to share them.

I bring it up because while I think that, on the surface, we all seem to have very difficult long-term goals -- Andrej wants to establish the mission, Ahmet wants to return to Fatima before embarking on a life of adventure, Lukas wants to build a tower -- but at least in the short term, we all have several things in common. Andrej needs to pacify the area to attract merchants and a market, Ahmet needs plunder to raise the 10,000 g.p. he owes Fatima, and Lukas might as well build his tower here and will need money as well as make sure there's no enemies present. So really all three goals actually work well together if you look at it that way.

Ahmet said...

(I meant very different long-term goals, but I suppose they are difficult as well!)

Lukas said...

The basement I intend to be a laboratory in the big tower. I'm trying to think of a good containment/purge procedure for the lowest basement floor of laboratory. Something that has a very low risk of being triggered while I'm down there, but is good to trigger quickly when I'm not.

Ahmet said...

See, this is how every evil wizard starts out. "I just want something simple to guard my tower when I'm not here..." The next thing you know, army of evil minions!

Lukas said...

I think you are overly concerned with the minions when I wish to create a magical circle that will allow for instantaneous travel to unseen locations.

There is no way the creation of that could possibly open gateways to anything terrible.

Oddbit said...

"Smart evil wizards deflect criticism of true evil activities with distracting minor side projects of dubious actual merit." ~Evil Wizards 101

James Clark said...

So, we're coming up on the one year anniversary of the campaign going silent. I am hoping that this blog is still monitored and that the principal parties are interested in rekindling the game. I have chosen April 1st to make this earnest inquiry only by chance. Has this ship sailed already or is there hope still for Andrej, Ahmet, Lukas, Max and company?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I was thinking about this being an anniversary too.

You know, this campaign was very good for my world, my design directions and my mindset. I think about picking it up again because, honestly, it made me a better DM.

Between the books, the last six months of my job (I'm unemployed, so gawd knows I have the time right now), the change in my circumstances, I must admit that it would be a big responsibility to start it up again. It isn't fair, though, to leave you there on the beach, is it?

My stress level at being out of work right now, amidst a recession in the city where I am, is pretty high. I can feel my anxiety rise even now as I write this, fighting between wanting to run this campaign and questioning if I can do it well just now. It is the place I have been for, hell, as you point out, a year.

Just now, I'd like to see what sort of job I can get. It is looking like it will be sales; which will mean no office access during the day. Which will suck. Until I know, I just can't make a straight commitment towards where I will be in even a few weeks time.

Not much of an answer, I know. Please accept my apology.

James Clark said...

No apology necessary, Alexis. The game is a secondary consideration to your making contributions to yours and your partner's survival and comfort. That said, once your circumstances are settled and the chance at picking back up arises or is put to rest, let's talk then. And stay in touch in-between. I've missed interacting with you as much as the game, and accept that's mostly on me. Thanks for the speedy reply.

Oddbit said...

For the record. I still check in from time to time.

Though if we do decide to push for kicking it off again when Alexis is ready, an email would be appreciated.

And yes, I will reserve time for it.

James Clark said...

Lukas/ oddbit, I am glad you found this. Out of curiosity, was it my comment on Alexis's main blog that led you here? I was going to email everybody, but after a year with no correspondence amongst us I lost the addresses along with the last group message.

Oddbit said...

TBH, I probably would have seen it a week from nowish.

The main blog was the source of me dropping by.

I might actually have an email still. I can take a look and send you the content.

James Clark said...

That would be grand, Oddbit, thank you.

Butch said...

I must admit the ongoing Goblin Fort saga on the main page has me reminiscing about our attack on the kobolds and other adventures.

Hoping Alexis lands his dream job and it involves a lot of down time and unfiltered Internet access. ;)

Alexis Smolensk said...

I have everyone's email address.

I would certainly not have started again without first asking, "Hey, guys, do you still want to play in this lousy campaign?"

Maximillian Boii said...

I too think fondly of the campaign and all the plans I had made for my characters from time to time. Not long after we ended I switched jobs however, and I also just don't think I could make it work to play during the day. It's a shame, but it's better I don't try and let you all down. I'll read along for sure if you do end up restarting.

Best of luck to you in your search, Alexis.