Friday, May 5, 2017

Climbing into the Karamio Hills

Come the morning of the 20th, the party begins along the road west of Kefe, circling the bay in a couple of hours until ~ with a little directions ~ reaching the cart tracks on the left side of the road that will take them up into the South Karamio Hills.  It is a fine, cool day for hiking, with a light rain that lasts until you enter the forest and begin to a gentle climb.  It quits soon after.

The hills, you will find, have a sharp drop of fifty or sixty feet on the south side, with a long gentle slope on the north, what is called a "cuesta."  Marciana leads the camel(s) behind the party, remarking on the ease of the route, as a cart rack ~ grassy, with ruts ~ leads the way.

She has explained that she has heard the rumors, but doubts if there are any real "cities" to be found.  There are many caves in the Yaila Mountains, the term for all the mountains of south Crimea, but only those in the highest ranges are unexplored.  These hills where you're travelling now have been tramped over for centuries, so you are unlikely to find anything.

You look about at the thick forest, full of thickets, and find it difficult to believe that there can't be places that might not have remained hidden, even after all this time.  The land looks overgrown, with high grass growing into dry thorn bushes, from which emerge tall mastic trees, fat oaks, tangled ash trees and 125 foot pine trees.

Marciana tells that she hasn't spent much time in the bush here, much more on the plains in the last two years that she has been in Crimea; she's been on this road only once before.  The thing to worry is the large Crimean lizards; they're fifteen feet long and are known to emerge from the bushes to attack travellers.  She is not too worried, however, as this road gets a lot of travellers ~ and that is true, the ruts show a lot of use.

In fact, along about noon, as you've climbed to a point where you can see the Black Sea in the distance, you begin to meet carts loaded with wood rolling down out of the forest, one about ever ten minutes or so.  This holds you up quite a bit, as Marciana has to move the camel(s) off the road, keeping them calm and then moving forward again.  As such, moving against this stream, it takes about two hours before you reach a tiny settlement called Aknar, where the road ends.

Aknar is little more than a carter's post, with stables for donkeys and mules, granaries for feed grain, huge dumps of logs being brought out of the forest and at least a dozen saw pits ~ that you can see ~ that are right now in steady use.  About fifty men can be seen working hard to shave and straighten the logs, some to cut them into beams or lumber, others loading the logs onto carts and some wrestling with the animals to get them into position to be loaded.  When a cart is loaded, it begins to descend down the road on its way to Kefe.


Kismet said...

Are we a bit far to start making connections for the mission?

I mean, I don't think anyone HERE can make deals (all spoken for) but I bet they could point us towards the right person.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "make connections for the mission."

James Clark said...

Not bad thinking, Kismet, we will need lumber to build but I also wonder if there won't be closer sources to home and whether it will be any more complicated than reading and buying from a market list.

Sofia stops to pull from her waterskin and survey the camp. Which people appear to be bringing the logs in from the woods? These I would like to question if possible re: the hills, dangers aside from the aforementioned lizards and, despite anticipating some funny looks, cave cities.

(I'm preparing for a short camping trip today so will be on and off the computer but out of pocket tomorrow and Sunday until the evening.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

[oo! enjoy camping!]

Yes, there will be closer sources to Rosk, though not as rich as this.

You see no one bringing in material from the forest. Your questions yield answers that this is the wood collected up until yesterday. Today's parties won't return with new wood until near sunset.

People do laugh as you refer to cave cities, talking about how every once in awhile some foreigner gets the idea that they exist. You're told they were all cleared out long ago. But some mention that there are half-orc bandits and old orc tribes that are known to thrive in the Bolat Range.

The nearer country is criss-crossed with cart-tracks two or three miles into the forest, but after that the forest grows quite wild and you may not find a way for your camels. Marciana has never been further than the camp.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I am sorry we weren't able to do more today. For the record, I plan to make Fridays my day of dedication, whenever possible. It is best I can do just now. Please take care and know that I'm off tomorrow too, though I will be focused on my book]

Sofia the Monk said...

(OOC: Thank you Alexis, and good luck with the book.)

We could turn west into the Bolat if you gents are feeling adventurous. I am. If there are cities there, abandoned or not, there must be pathways to take us there. We do risk getting lost, and having trouble with the camels, BUT... cave cities. We could wait and rest a bit, awaiting the parties returning for the day to see if any of those who range further afield have more information.

I will check in again tonight, then be off early tomorrow.

Enrico Guerriero said...

(OOC Enjoy your camping!

I came to find mole people in cave cities and that's what I intend to do.)

Kismet said...

You may have to settle for lizards in the underbrush.

On the bright side you can eat one of those two.

Kismet said...

Also, if possible turning west sounds good.

It may be the idea to leave the hireling here and bring what supplies we need to get there and back again though.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Good idea Kismet. If the locals are willing we could camp just within or just outside of this camp and leave behind Marciana, the camels and much of the gear.

Alexis, Sofia will question the crews after they return as we did the workers here as soon as she is able to do so. She's looking for specific information on cave cities, and if any materializes or anybody simply takes us seriously, looking to hire a guide into the forests to find one.

(OOC: Perhaps if Friday is a dedicated day to run for us all, we can work the logistics out through the week in small doses.)

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

So... are you waiting for something specific from the players, Alexis, or are you just not able to play until Friday?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'm sorry, I wrote a comment on the last post, not this one. Please go read the comments field on al and you'll see what I'm looking for.

I must be pretty tired this week.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

(Ah, that explains it. I'm sorry I didn't speak up sooner.)

As we are not getting any more info out of the camp, I suppose we just strike out. I suggest we move Southwest into the southernmost hex of the Bolat range, looking for any overgrown paths and or signs of ruin as we are able. We can take it one hex at a time, working our way north.

Sofia wears no armor and has an AC 6. She will carry her glaive in one hand and keep her other hand free. I will update what else I'm bringing on my character sheet. I recommend you guys grab 2-3 days of rations with whatever else you bring.

As for focus, I think we want to focus along the base of the south-facing cliffs of the cuestras. If there be cities, wouldn't we best see their signs from this vantage? I'm assuming they'd be built into the cliff faces and hidden from sight from the ridges. What say you guys?

Kismet said...

"1) Can you tell me what armor you're wearing and give me your armor class as you hike through the forest. I have to tell you, if you're wearing heavy armor, I'm going to half your travel speed through the rough, untended forest beyond the area the camp is cutting from."

I'm going to go ahead and spitball that Kismet's
"Long distance running skill allows daily on foot travel to be increased by 40%."
Wont help negate the heavy armor penalty. Basically due to the fact that it is either endurance or running based.

If so, he'll switch out his banded for studded leather and a shield
which appears to put his AC at 6.

He will continue to wear his leather gloves and helmet of course.

2) What are you carrying in each hand?
Odds are this is his shield and probably his machete if needed (thick underbrush) to help get through.

I will update my sheet with weights as appropriate tonight.
I need to figure out which clothing items aren't required now and then shift things around.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Kismet brings up another point. I will need to know your combat movements.

I have in mind the layout of the hex you'll be investigating. I want to emphasize that it will be an investigation and not a guaranteed destination. You don't know if there's anything specific in the hex where you plan to search, or how long you'll need to search to find or not find it. The region will be dangerous, I will be causing wilderness damage on a random daily basis, a simple roll once per day for each person to see if there's a chance of slipping, falling (never a great distance, just sliding down a trail and such), cutting oneself on a tree, etc. None of it will be immediately life threatening, but it will winnow you down from day to day, a tough go since there's no cleric in the party. But I think fair, since you're going to a place that is so rough in terrain that it has kept out exploitation and settlement for 2200 years of continuous history, since the Greeks first found colonies on the shore in the 6th century BC.

Please sign off on that; I won't guarantee that you'll find what you're looking for, but it is safe to assume you'll find something in that dangerous country.

Sofia the Monk said...

I'm game.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico purchases a suit of leather armor (26 gp) and three days rations for heavy exertion (15 gp).

He leaves his plate armor on the horse and wears the leather armor. With his shield he now has AC 7.

He carries the shield in one hand and holds the horse's reins in the other.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Because it is a dry forest and much of the territory is gently sloped, your horse should be fine in the brush, though it will mean not being able to go into thickets without leaving the horse behind.

But what if the party wants to go underground? What will become of Coraggio in that circumstance?

Kismet said...

Regarding Kismet's combat movement, after rearranging gear (no splint) even with all supplies carried his AP is 5.

Enrico Guerriero said...

I guess we will leave him with the camels and the camel handler.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

So, ironically it's the monk that will slow the party down. Due to Sofia's size and strength and the amount of gear I'm carrying she's at a -3 MP, or 3. I can get faster if you guys either take or have: 50' of rope, a grapple, a crowbar, some torches (I will keep the lantern and oil and consider this our primary light source).

She will leave the glaive behind as well.

Kismet said...

Let's look at Enrico's ap first? I can take weight but pretty much anything drops it to 4, but if Enrico is also 3 then we may need to talk about what weight needs to be shifted to get the party to 4.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Marciana is not trained to look after a horse.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Alexis, what does Marciana's lack of skill mean in practice? Will the horse become lost? Hurt? Suffer in morale?

Alexis Smolensk said...

She doesn't know the proper feeding, care, maintenance and so on of a horse. She doesn't know how much food it should eat, how to groom it, the importance of walking the horse daily or how to do it, etcetera.

I'm saying that Enrico did not consider hiring a handler for the horse as well and now you have a problem.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sofia asks around the camp. There were carts on the road between here and Kefe, so surely somebody here must be skilled with horses. She asks which people have such skills and then asks to hire one, either to work directly for the party as does Marciana or to add Carragio to their responsibilities for a cost.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That would involve someone walking out on a contract (since everyone here is employed), then having to remain in the vicinity of their ex-employer for a stranger who may pay more, but wouldn't then be present ~ and without knowing how long the new gig would last.

Would you take that deal?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

That depends on how happy I was with my current situation and how good a pitch my new employers made. Is that a no?

Alexis Smolensk said...

It also occurs to me that many people working here would be part of a family. Particularly in any given role. So I'll have say no. Sorry.

Sofia the Monk said...

I suppose our options are

1) leave the horse tied up nearby where Marciana can at least keep an eye on it and not be away for too long.

2) take the horse

I'm OK with Enrico making the call.

Enrico Guerriero said...


How long will it take me to teach a camel handler how to feed a horse?

Enrico Guerriero said...

Alternately, can I pay to have him stabled at the carter's post with the donkeys and mules?

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I'm here for the next 8 hours, so check your feed often today!]

I don't want to spend all day trying to figure out Enrico's horse ~ and unfortunately Enrico tends to disappear for a long time. So I'm going to let this slide this one time. In truth, the carter's post would be jammed full of workers and no one would have the time to look after Enrico's horse. It would be like asking a restaurant to store your groceries for a few hours while you take a walk about the mall. Like I said, however, I don't want to waste time on it. The real solution would be to return to Kefe and HIRE the right person to look after the horse. That should have been thought of and the penalty of wasting a day to go back to Kefe and do it right should be enforced.

But let's leave the horse at the camp with Marciana and head out. This will mean that Enrico does not have access to his heavier armor, which will be a plus.

I'm going to write a post that will cover three days of exploration, assuming that you don't chance to find something right off.

Sofia the Monk said...

Sounds like a plan.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.

Enrico Guerriero said...

I'm annoyed with myself for not thinking of it, especially when I was advocating hiring a second camel handler; I should have been thinking of a horse handler instead.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ascribe it to unfamiliarity with the sage rules. The whole problem with creating these abilities is that is suddenly makes things that players once took for granted no longer possible. With the invention of skills we also invent the inconvenience of specificity.