Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Climbing to the Top of the Chimney Passage

Kismet, naturally, begins to climb up the vertical passage, being cautious about the wooden rungs, as they clearly feel weakened with dampness and perhaps rot.  He grips and steps upon the corners of the rungs, warning the others as he goes, though of course they begin to sense this as well.

Yet the rungs hold as Kismet climbs through the twisting chimney, until above, some twenty feet or so above him, he can see something that looks like a rattan-work covering.  There is a dim light showing through the rattan branches.  He cannot hear any sound or sense any movement.  After some natural whispering with his friends, he will eventually move up until he can see that it is nothing more than a covering over the chimney, not hooked by hinges in anyway.  The light seems to correspond to daylight.

All continues to be quiet.  What do you do?


Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico, wary of the ladder supporting his weight any longer than is absolutely necessary, urges Kismet to exit the chimney.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Kismet, I think Enrico's concern is prudent.

If Kismet exits the chimney, Sofia will follow. Once all on solid ground, if we need the monk to scout or be stealthy I'm willing.

Kismet said...

Oh yeah, Kismet goes forwards.
He peeks out, then if it looks clear emerges and clears the way as much as possible.

Alexis Smolensk said...

On first glance, from the floor, it seems to be a simple cottage, about 15 feet square. There's a gap between the top of the walls and the roof, so you know that you've reached the surface. The thin light of dawn is creeping in from the door. There's no evidence that anyone lives here; there isn't even a stick of furniture.

Kismet said...

Kismet climbs out and helps his companions up.

Alexis Smolensk said...

You all get up and have a chance to look around. From the direction of the sun rising, you can see out the side opposite the door towards the Aegean Sea. You were meant to find a beach on that side, where Enrico's horse would be brought; you can't see the beach from the hilltop, but you can't see the shore either. The beach might be immediately below you.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sofia extinguishes her torch and asks the others to do likewise. You guys can keep them, the two we lit to fight the blob should be pretty close to whole.

She checks what gear remains, checks her bandage and mutters to herself, "Healing salves. That's what I should have gotten at the market."

Once all are ready we should see if we can find a way down to the beach.

Kismet said...

Kismet is ready and marches off towards the beach himself as well.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico follows the others, eager to be reunited with the noble Corragio.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sofia follows Kismet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The birds are chirping the early morning in as you walk down to the sea. The foliage is pretty thick, more so that you usually expect for this part of the world: cypress and olive trees, with lilac trees starting to explode in bloom. The morning of the 23rd of April is airy and clear, promising to be a balmy day, as it is six a.m. and already distinctly warm (see the chart). There is a fresh breeze in the trees above you, but you're untouched by the wind on the lee of the hill.

You see the beach before you come to it, but you do not see Enrico's horse - yes, it is there - until you actually step out of the trees.

It is loaded as Enrico left it, but just now there are two young men, arrayed for travelling with weapons and leather armor, looking the horse over. They seem to be inspecting it to see the quality of the animal.

Enrico Guerriero said...

OOC - Does the horse appear to be tethered or hobbled, or is he on the loose?

Alexis Smolensk said...

The horse is loose.

Enrico Guerriero said...

OOC - Can Enrico call the horse to him with a Lone Ranger-style whistle, or does that only work with dogs and Hollywood horses?

Enrico Guerriero said...

OOC - It's been awhile, but here's why Enrico feels so connected to his horse:

It’s very obedient, since its from your father you’ve had it since it was foaled … so it has a 3 morale. (will act in your favor on anything except snake eyes).

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Can Sofia attempt to hide in the foliage before Enrico or the others take an action?

Kismet said...

They do not look like soldiers from earlier?
I assume there was some type of uniform or at least identification for those prior?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hah! The lone ranger whistle ought to be an authority level skill. Remind me when I get to writing those rules, will you Enrico?

The horse will definitely recognize your voice if you get within 60 feet of it.

Sofia, yes. Presume that you're separating from the others, and then your stealth ability will kick in. You should be quite secure at 14-16 hexes, so long as you're not out on the beach.

Kismet, they definitely don't look like soldiers. You'd take them for mercenaries, perhaps. They look to be about 17-19 years of age.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico moves to within 60 feet of the horse (and his two admirers), and hollers a hearty halloo to his steed.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The horse lifts its head in recognition and both of the strangers jump back from the horse in surprise.

Kismet said...

Kismet will keep Pace with Enrico

Enrico Guerriero said...

"Good day, gentlemen," Enrico says, his voice friendly but his hand not far from the hilt of his flail. He continues closing the distance. "Is there something we can help you with?"

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Alexis, I'm interpreting "... quite secure at 14-16 hexes..." as the outer limit of when I'd need to start making rolls. If so, how many hexes away from her friends and the two mercenaries is Sofia in her current hiding spot? I'm OK with a roundabout figure, just trying to get a sense of distance and approximate time needed to act or react.

Alexis Smolensk said...


You'd be 14-16 hexes from the two men. To call the horse, the party has to move within 12 hexes, or 60 feet, to be heard and to speak to the men. Enrico has said he is continuing to close the distance, so he would be around 8 hexes right now.

If you want to move closer, say you want to move closer, probably by saying, "staying in the brush, I use stealth to approach the men more closely." Otherwise, count on being three rounds away from a fight if it happens.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The two men will respond, "We weren't doing anything, Mister. We were just wondering whose horse this is."

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I don't mind saying I'm feeling a little frustrated. I put up this post five days ago and since that time, we've managed five comments a day.

[It really feels that there is virtually no interest in this campaign, certainly no expression of emotion or the remotest curiosity. I create situations that are plainly of no interest to the party, that seem to be taken in the spirit of extreme caution or with utter disinterest. I've received no real feedback in weeks regarding anything I'm attempting to do here ~ and in terms of DMing this, it feels like real work with no compensation.

[Do any of you even give a shit? I don't know. There's no way to tell. Every description is met by a twenty word response and then a day before another answer has come back. I recognize the last few days have been Easter and all that, certainly a reason why the campaign would stifle, but this has been going on for the last month.

[Shall we just call it? It seems plain to me that there is only a half-hearted interest. I'm more than willing to step away, apologize for my apparently lack-luster DMing and give up the campaign. I don't know what else to do or how else to play this.

[I know I have been at fault here. Try as I might, I can't seem to dream up a single event, situation, setting or intrigue that produces the least emotion. I apologize for that.]

Kismet said...

Ok, so there's a mix of things going on here.

Firstly, I have no intent of holding you to run a game you have no interest, time, or energy to run. You have as much right as any at the 'table' to decide a game is not for you.

About, response times and post length.
So, at a table, a player can say "What does the room look like?" And the DM can respond with a detail of whatever matters.

Here we have, a lot of very good descriptions that draw no additional need of explanation. "Here is a perfectly bare room." [unsaid: Ok, it's probably safe], let's get the others out quickly (house we just left).

"You go outside, it's fairly clear which direction the horse would be in if you chose to go that way." Ok, so let's go that way, because I really want to find my horse. [unsaid: I am nervous about it]

"You see some dudes with the horse" I go and ask them what's up [unsaid: I really hope they aren't going to fight us over this.]

Now I am summing your posts up a lot. But those concerns and emotions aren't normally written out on the players end, but probably easier seen and/or comments made at a table. I guarantee you those are some of the unspoken concerns and worries.

One thing that may limit some more verbose descriptions is possibly related to when we were rationing torches. Perhaps you used it as a way to keep us from spending forever arguing over our approach, but it also seemed to suggest you would rather action with each post.

I know generally I'm allowing others to take the lead in various situations (such as merely following Enrico as he goes to seek his horse) which reduces my post content. There's not a lot more to say, I'm following Enrico keeping in step. Anything else is just seeing how the world reacts to this action.

It seems to me any other internal monologue is doable, but would be distracting from the actual action of my post, out of character, or derailing of what is going on.

Not in a pointing fingers sense, we all have lives, but some of the largest gaps here are "Tell me what these guys look like?" - "DM response" and "Enrico marches forwards to talk to the men." - "DM response" (paraphrasing). Are you waiting on responses for everyone to pitch in before responding? If so that would be helpful in making sure I get my word in.

I frequently wait for a DM response as I have no action to take until I know said response. I would not be surprised if the others do likewise.

My opinion of the game: I am interested. I am however, taxed in real life due to a variety of things, but interested. I am very tense low excitement on whether or not I will get the couple hundred XP to level. I am concerned about whether or not we will be able to heal up (mostly Sofia/Enrico). I am a bit disappointed we did not encounter valuable treasure (more xp), but don't feel owed such. I am pleased we appear to have made it to potential safety and apprehensive about the two men. I am making a list of all the things I feel I stupidly forget while assembling Kismet, you would have seen many hand on forehead moments. I am not so much thinking about our next destination, but that is the next thought that comes to mind. There are some concerns about getting to safety, and some interest in whether or not the two men could potentially be hired or at least helpful.

As for areas that create interest... Well it's a mix. We were interested in the slime room, but there was time and danger pressure. I was interested in the tunnel, but there was time pressure. I was somewhat interested in the rat man, time pressure, house, well there wasn't much to say, it was completely empty.

I could speculate, I could note things, I could add more content about plans and so on, but I also don't want to be distracting or spending unrealistic time sharing information.

I'm not certain what the answers should be to all these things, but feel like there could be ones.

Enrico Guerriero said...

OOC - For me, the real mystery is what happened to Ahmet, Andrej, and Captain Salvador, an explanation for the future-dated journals, and the talking sword and how it connects to the Jesuits. This is a side adventure that hasn't given us a lot of meat to chew on... we're sort of rolling from one obstacle to the next. I for one want to keep playing, but if you're not feeling it we should have a hiatus until you are.

Enrico Guerriero said...

By "side adventure" I don't mean all that has transpired since we've restarted, just this current stretch from the old man in the village to the bandits to the pudding and now to these two fellows.

As far as I can tell none of these things relate to the bigger quest we're on, other than obstacles to overcome... which is perfectly fine, it's just my emphasis has been on overcoming them as opposed to exploring/investigating them.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I created the side adventure because I was getting next to no response to anything I presented regarding travelling. I suppose I should have just said, "The henchmen party wait a month, leave, then find the main party in Donbass. There, done. Let's move forward."

If that's what it takes, let's do it now. Because I'm tired of this non-response.

Kismet, you can write forever on what I did and what you feel, but the fact is that I'm writing, writing, writing and setting up scenes, only to receive very little in return. You say you're interested. That's nice. But since you can't be bothered to express any actual emotion in your responses, keeping everything by the book, there's no way for me to tell if you're interested or not. You don't EXPRESS interest, you only express the bare-bones commentary necessary to play. And most of that bare-bones is pretty nit-picky stuff.

Moreover, the party is so freaking cautious about everything they do, I spend half the time just trying to get you to move forward without every inch of the space being gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Once again, this may be rational, it may be reasonable, it may be practical, but it is also Dullsville in the extreme.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

My interest in the game is still very high and I believe my posts are consistent with this. I've been frustrated with and as guilty of contributing to the slow pace as much as anybody but believe it has been the result of our schedules being out of synch. Lacking the momentum of the minute-to-minute updates of the past, continuity has been hurt and building the tension and emotion that Alexis finds lacking is made more difficult.

The game shouldn't be a chore for anybody. I'm here for my pleasure and I expect you three are as well. If not, maybe we go on hiatus again and perhaps for good this time.

Perhaps there's another way, though. If lacking the opportunity to be all present and playing at about the same time every day like before, maybe we can try a slightly more structured schedule for playing. We used to be much better at letting each other know when we'd be active or inactive.

Something along the lines of, say, everyday by 10 AM EST everybody is expected to check the blog and post as necessary. Thereafter they must check back in again by noon, 2 PM, 4PM and 6PM or let the rest of those playing know how long they'll be away. That particular scheduled is there for illustrative purposes only. We need to identify something that is acceptable to all, both in terms of commitment required and payoff.

Oddbit said...

It's not just frequency, but also content. I don't think skipping to the end destination will fix that. I don't think setting times will fix that.

I also don't know how to guarantee to Alexis we'll be providing the emotional feedback that is needed.

I think this is the bigger challenge.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

For me, providing content and feedback will become a byproduct of more regular play. That is, once we are all demonstrably present and committed to playing I feel the content and feedback will happen, as before. What else do you feel is necessary, Oddbit? Butch? Alexis?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

While I stated commitment to the game above, I failed to provide any insight to my current thinking about Sofia and her companions. It remains what I stated weeks ago when we decided to set out from Kofunisia. My desire is to see the party reunited and pursue the sword quest and the mission as a single party. I foresee we'll be able to set some things into motion regarding the administration of the mission and then depart on the Jesuit quest or something else that arises should we desire. Like Butch, I'm treating the things that happen between now and the reunion as obstacles to be overcome.

Perhaps this has a poor approach for DM satisfaction, or sent a message of disinterest in the near-term goings-on. But in looking back I see few choices that I'd want to reverse or options I would have liked to explore further.

I can immediately do a better job in expressing joy for the game once we resume. Sofia's immediate concerns and anxieties are similar to Kismet's. She needs rest and recuperation, access to a market and a plan to continue our journey.

Alexis Smolensk said...

1) I am willing to consider a reboot. Frankly, however, I'd like to reboot everything since Koufonisia. I'd like to ascribe it all as a bad dream and pretend none of it happened. I'm not enjoying the party's response to the sword, the quest idea, the sense of "overcoming obstacles" or any of the intrigue. It clearly has the party feeling that it is on a railroad, which was never my intention.

2) If there is a reboot, then let things start with the party united in the Donbass. I'm not ready with rules to run Andrej starting a church, but I'm willing to try.

3) I cannot meet Sofia's proposed schedule. I'm in a state of depression that drives me until I virtually collapse from exhaustion. When I am not actively looking for work, I am seeking distraction that will stop my sense of worry and concern about those dates when I will have bills to pay and my savings will have run out. Those days are coming soon. At any rate, I'm unusually not up until noon EST and I'm either out hitting places before the lunch rush or I am struggling to make myself functional and ready to work (coffee, lots of coffee). If I'm not out in the afternoon, between the lunch rush and the dinner rush, I'm finding something valuable to do like making another comic for publication or actually working on the world. There are endlessly rules/settings that need to be made or fixed or addressed associated with game play and there isn't enough time to do it.

4) After six o'clock my time, 8 EST, everything else gets hashed and I work on my book. It usually takes me all day to get into the mood and I find it a grinding, unpleasant, never-ending trial. The book is good, I think, but to be sure it is good I am going over it and over it in the worst way, trying to maintain my perspective and not letting my mood affect the book's nature or quality. This is fine, books get written this way all the time, by writers in the same moody state that I'm in.

5) In this state, FEEDBACK is essential for me. I push the blog, I push twitter, I push facebook, I push the campaigns, I push the comics, I push my book and my patreon, I push and push and push, because right now the only saving grace I have is the hope that I can make some kind of headway online with notoriety, art, credibility and acceptance. The only measure I have for this is feedback ~ which I do not get in anything like the quality I need it. This is frustrating, difficult and a constant reminder that I need to work on projects that get feedback and kill projects that return malaise and disregard.

I hope this gets it across that I am either a) working at finding work; b) working at the prospect of success; or c) working at not losing my fucking mind.

Can we go from here? It may just be best to drop this campaign. You all describe yourselves as BUSY. Perhaps it is best to just acknowledge that four busy people do not make the best online experience together.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Alexis, your #1 through 3 concerns have to be your own health, happiness and making a living. If you're overwhelmed right now I will understand if you need to set this game aside. I'd even understand it if you chose to only set Senex aside but pursue Juvenis, if that's where your heart is. I would be disappointed, but it's clear you have a lot on your plate and you must prioritize what works for you personally over what doesn't. I can't tell if you want to toss this and just need a way out or want to keep it going and just need a way to make it work.

My own thoughts are I don't think the game is un-fixable, and am committed to making something work for us. I can give you more feedback on this game on this blog as we go. I can take the emphasis over reunion if you're not ready to run the mission. I can go along with a re-boot if that will make you happy, but don't think there's anything wrong with the sword quest, it's just that I prioritized it behind reunion. I can change. I will change if it means us getting this back on track. My primary interest here is playing in a rewarding game with people I like. I'm flexible on the rest.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

I meant to say "...take the emphasis off reunion..." not over.

Oddbit said...

1) I do not feel railroaded. I feel like we have goals and those goals go in a certain direction. The sword conveniently goes in the same direction. Furthermore once we get there, the goals are very abstract and long term, nothing specific and local. So it's a good option.

2) I will go with whatever we decide, but personally don't feel a reboot is necessary. If it works best for others (especially you Alexis) then that is what we should do.

3) This is number 1. You need to take care of you first. I wouldn't dream of trying to take more of you than you have.

4) Similar to 3.

5) Feedback, would it help when after we finish a post and create the next, we have a short commentary on the now old post regarding it's content and so on? Chat about what we think of what happened in the round of combat, or the interaction or whatever while posting new stuff on the next post instead of a hard cut?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Guys, I know that health is my first priority. That's why I live and act as I do. Don't forget that I am also a mad scientist and a quixotic bastard, and that those elements are part of my health too.

Oddbit, #5 is the best proposal I have heard yet. We do this at a table, don't we? And before and after games in RL, yes? These moments are important too, as it helps a DM know what's working and what doesn't.

You guys used to do this throughout your play. Go back and look at the old posts.

James Clark said...

It is true, we did. But I include you in the "we" Alexis. Can we four commit to improving feedback and communication in general and resume with the campaign where it is? Are you intent on a reboot, Alexis? Do you simply need a break? Is there more that needs to be resolved?

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's a fair cop, James. I did chat more in the past.

I've had a "break." We've acted so little in these posts that there hasn't been much need for me to work on the campaign. What I want is a sense of excitement about moving forward.

I've had a vote on the reboot idea and I can drop it. But I am going to change my tactics with the player's travel.

I feel the air is cleared somewhat. I'm ready to move on, if you'll accept my 2pm to 8pm EST (11am to 5pm PST) window, with the acknowledgement that I give time in that slot according to my distraction and availability, and that I'm bound to write out of that window if inclined.

James Clark said...

(OOC: I'm on-board. My schedule will be abnormal the rest of this week and weekend, but I will commit to checking in however I can and contributing. You shouldn't notice it, but I mention it just in case.)

Sofia, staying in the brush, uses stealth to approach the men more closely while her companions approach openly. She wants to be our ace in the hole, should one become necessary.

I hope you can feel my excitement?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I've started a new post.