Friday, May 12, 2017

Into the Bolat Range

It is still the 20th; the day is still cool, the sky clear and there is no sign of rain.  You set out for the southern Bolat Range, which you can distantly see.  Coming at it from the north, you will be approaching the cuestas from their gently sloped backs, so that you cannot see the cliffs (these would look out over the sea).

For most of the afternoon, you will follow a clean, trimmed pathway created by the loggers, until that gives out about three miles south of the carter's post.  The path continues, but now it has begun to grow over, as the loggers have not worked this part of the forest this season, and perhaps most of the last.  The forest closes around you and you feel the slope as you begin to climb perhaps a hundred feet an hour.

Night comes as this second pathway quits, so you make camp near a bare karst outcropping surrounded by trees, which provides good shelter.  The journey so far has been easy, but you can see from the forest that the next day will not be.  Standing on the top of the nearby rocks, you can see the ridge to the south, a line of three humps extending from the northeast to the southwest (or, to put it another way, the nearest hump is on your left and it grows farther away towards your right).  The nearest ridge, you would guess, is about 1,500 feet above you and three to four miles away.

Looking the other way, towards the northwest, you see the cliff of a cuesta that is at least five miles from you.  The cliff is broken by a bowl in the middle of it, so that you begin to think of it as "Cauldron Mountain."  You have no idea what it's real name is.

The next day (the 21st of May is a Sunday), you pick the easiest looking direction through the forest, on the argument that if something intelligent is living out here, it must make its own tracks and trails, as it must emerge from the subterranean occasionally to make hunting trips for extra food.  Kismet leads with his machete and you cross through some light thickets and into a series of rocky meadows, separated by further thickets that you must hack through.  You are moving generally in a south-south east direction, towards the middle hump on the ridge to the south.  You find yourself climbing about 300 feet in the first hour.

Now, at this point, I roll a die to see what you might discover, and roll the unlikeliest chance possible.  Weird.  On a hunch, Kismet chooses to lead the party up a nearby defile, a stone path between banks that might have been gouged out by a glacier ten thousand years ago.  This leads you onto a ledge that overlooks the valley between the back of the cuestas and Cauldron Mountain, about 300 feet over the swoop of the land below.  And here you find a shrine.

It is a single block of stone in the shape of a font, weighing in the neighborhood of four tons.  It is two feet by four feet, and four feet high, with smooth, masoned edges and a basin in its center that is about five inches deep.  On either side of the basin are two gargoyle-like shapes, each about 12 inches high, looking down into the basin as though willing water to appear.

The basin has water in it, about a gallon.  This cannot be rainwater, for you're quite sure that it hasn't rained in this country for many days.  Moreover, there is a bundle of wildflowers on a small shelf above the basin, bound with twisted grass, that must have been collected that morning.  The wildflowers are the same as you've been seeing, mostly dandelions and crocuses.

I'll let you decide what you make of that.  There is no evidence of a trail leading immediately from this location, but you are surrounded by an area of bare rock, about a hundred yards wide.

43 comments:

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

"Who or whatever left that can't live too far off. Do we wait here in the hopes of their return or search the area? I like the idea of a thorough search."

Before we decide, Sofia closely examines the gargoyle-like shapes and encourages the others to do so. Do they resemble any creatures we have encountered or heard about?

Enrico Guerriero said...

I think a more thorough search is prudent.

Alexis Smolensk said...

No, no resemblance that you're aware of. They are quite odd to your experience.

A thorough search being agreed upon, and the stone surface yielding nothing (none of you have any tracking skill), you're bound to go searching through the near forest.

This will yield a narrow path leading down the slope and into the valley.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

"And there you have it. Let me go ahead, I can move better alone. Stay back 100 paces but be ready." (30 hexes)

"Can one of you two carry my pack (28.4 lbs.)?

Alexis Smolensk said...

How much weapon you are carrying matters here, Sofia. And damn it, I don't have your sage abilities rolled, at least they're not showing on my saved document. Could you please remind me your study? I know that smoke is your field.

[damn, bloody bookkeeping]

Alexis Smolensk said...

Right, smoke is the study, stone is the field. Got it. Working out your numbers right now.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

You rolled the numbers and put them on a share drive. I don't have the #'s but wrote down all of the abilities I qualified for. I can't access the drive you put it on form work, maybe I e-mailed it to myself. Let me check.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Confirmed from my phone, there's a Sofia entry in the player sage abilities on your google drive.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I think I just overwrote it. Sorry about that.

Was it updated for 2nd level? The new one is now. I can correct if this does not keep with your qualified abilities. Let me know, please.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ah, with the confirmation from your phone, I think you're reading the copy I just put in place.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

it looks like the entry for Sofia wasn't updated for 2nd level. You had said in the comments section of the post here that you rolled for 2nd but it doesn't look like they were saved. You did say "Moat" improved to amateur status.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

whoops, OK let me check again

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

So that's now a different file then the one I checked, maybe the old one was archived on my phone? If you rolled those for a 2nd level monk then it looks like I lose moat but my Smoke and Wall are higher. I won't quibble, we can take this and move on.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

(Oh, by the way the post I was referencing was here:

http://taoscampaign.blogspot.com/2017/03/climbing-into-subterranean-hill.html

coulda swore I pasted the url)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Okay, if you're satisfied with the numbers we can move on.

With your glaive in hand, moving in the day (3d6), you're -2 for level and -3 for the thick forest. You move ahead of the party for about an hour along the trail, stopping occasionally to show yourself when it seems right, to let the others know that you're still there, before moving ahead again.

This is a slow process, but just as the sun passes the zenith you find yourself within five hexes of a smoking fire. From your vantage point, it seems to have eaten its fuel, and is unattended. Using the hear noise rules I postulated this morning on the Juvenis blog (see the text of the last blog post), you cannot hear anything within 11 hexes of your present position that would suggest a creature moving about. Your line of sight is about 5-8 hexes in the brush.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

I amended my initial choice and left the glaive (and a bunch of gear) behind at camp once I figured out my encumbrance. Sofia has her daggers, but both hands are empty.

Sofia turns and awaits her friends to be in sight. Using hand gestures only she indicates that they should stop moving and be alert.

Enrico Guerriero said...

OK. I've updated Enrico's character sheet to reflect he is now wearing Leather Armor. That brings down the weight he's carrying to just 68.8 pounds, which means he can can another 23.2 pounds and still have 5 AP. Perhaps Kismet and Enrico can divvy up the contents of Sofia's 28.4 pound pack so Enrico stays at 5 AP; but Kismet is within 5 pounds of losing an AP, Enrico will carry the pack and go down to 4 AP.

As he no longer has to mind the horse's reins, he'll carry his shield in one hand and his horseman's flail +1 in the other.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Don't forget guys you can simply drop the pack when we fight. That's what Sofia does, I only handed it off to make sneaking easier.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I missed the weapon amendment.

Enrico and Kismet come into sight and see Sofia's signal.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Good point.

Enrico then carries Sofia's pack. At her signal he stops, drops the pack, and looks around for any sign of trouble.

Alexis Smolensk said...

You detect no threat, not for two or three minutes at least. Soon, still hearing nothing, the party begins to relax.

Sofia said...

Sofia indicates via hand gestures her companions should stay put.

She enters the area of the fire and gives it a search.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Someone stopped here and had lunch. From evidence on the rocks and the dirt around the fire, someone cut animal meat on the rocks, dripped oil into the fire (you can smell it) and did so with their boot toes digging into the soft soil. The firepit is built carefully of stones and looks as if it has been used many times.

These things are so obvious you don't need to be a ranger to see them. Of course, this all happened within the last thirty minutes to an hour, so the evidence is still clear.

Kismet said...

Kismet is within a fraction of a pound of losing his 5 AP.

That said, breakfast travelling should put that at 2 and a fraction pounds.

Kismet keeps his distance, and switches the machete for the broadsword once they start the sneaky part.

If we decide to proceed past the fire, then Kismet will also take a quick look around (and find nothing further I assume) before following.

Alexis Smolensk said...

It is mid-day and you will have to eat 4 lbs. of food today. You ate 4 lb. yesterday, yes?

Alexis Smolensk said...

[Good day, guys. I'll still check on the blog, but I'm going to play some video game and then do some comic design. I've been working on rewriting sections of chapter 13 today, so I feel it's been a good day]

Kismet said...

I left a large portion of my food with the Camel. As such this is kinda a new starting baseline to lose weight from.

[Enjoy! What's your poison these days? Still Civ?]

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sorry, I guess I'm late to this. I had previously been eating 2 lbs. on travel days and 3 lbs. on combat days. I see on the Wiki it's 4 lbs. traveling and 6 lbs on combat days. I didn't bring enough food. When did the rules change, btw, and what drove the change?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I brought in the change about a year ago; it was due to my reading content about explorers and their provisions moving through Canada in the 1800s, which was then supported by investigations into ordinary daily fare of people in an age where physical labor was more common.

Please do not be concerned with anything in the past; I don't want you trying to pay up for your backlog. Please just double your carried food at the moment, assuming you took a sufficient amount from the camel. I don't want to penalize you for a misunderstanding about the rules.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

(OOC: Alexis, that's more than fair, thank you.)

Sofia awaits her friends, silently pointing out the details she noted, then removes food from her pack to eat. After a short rest, she continues as before. Does the trail we have been following continue out from the camp? If so, she leads the party down that.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

I would like to amend my action. Sofia eats quickly, and while her friends finish she takes the opportunity to camouflage herself per her monk ability, using foliage, dirt and perhaps ash from the fire to coat/ conceal herself. This allows me -2 stealth hexes, also note she no longer carries any weapon in her hand.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Understood regarding camouflage and the lack of a weapon (wondered when you'd remember you were a monk!)

The path does continue, down into the bottom of the valley. You continue to scout ahead of the party, taking note that the general direction of the path leads towards Cauldron Mountain.

Rolling dice, you find yourself within hearing range, about ten hexes, of someone calmly humming to themselves; at the moment, they are invisible behind the trees and brush. Judging from the calm of their voice, they seem taken up with some activity and unaware of you.

If you wish to move forward from here, you must tell me exactly how many hexes you intend to close [as too many will give you away]. As I said, the voice would seem to be about ten hexes away.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

First and foremost, Sofia signals her friends to halt and remain quiet.

Sofia's pack is in the hands of her companions already. She quietly undoes her cloak and unclasps her weapon belts. That should count her as stripped, yes? As I understand the modifiers this should now be: -2 for 2 levels of stealth, -2 for stripped w/o weapon, -2 for camo ability for a total of -6 so far. Would the concealment between her and the target be considered open(0), light(-1) or dense (-3)? I assume we are in full daylight (3d6)?

Kismet said...

Kismet follows until informed he must halt, then does so.

There's been a lot of thick growth, so I'm assuming that line of sight for ranged weapons is limited.

So Kismet will stick with his broadsword and shield.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico halts and remains silent.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, I went to work.

That is brilliant thinking, Sofia, and I applaud the idea of using the moment of hearing noise to improve your chances ~ but I ask you: is dumping your equipment not in itself potentially noisemaking? It could be that while you improve your stealthiness afterwards, for that one moment you decrease your stealthiness by, say, two hexes, in the action of unloading.

In this case, it does not give you away, at least not that you can tell. What do you do next?

[I'm just home from work, I'm very tired, I will probably go crash for a while, possibly take a nap]

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Would the concealment between her and the target be considered open(0), light(-1) or dense (-3)? I assume we are in full daylight (3d6)?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Daylight, yes, and as above I am considering this a thick forest. Discounting being stripped, you were -7 overall. Certainly got you within 10 hexes without being discovered, whereupon you were close enough to hear the humming.

As I said, clever that you stripped, but penalizing you 2 points for one round for the actual removal of your equipment. Then, you're at -9.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Proceeding at -9 then...

Sofia closes no more than half the estimated distance (5 hexes) trying to lay eyes on the source of the humming. That is, if she spots somebody through the trees after moving 1 or 2 hexes, she stops.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[So, you are probably worried, at least a little. You know I'm here, but where's the campaign?

[I can remember when starting a physical job meant a few bad days, but then the body would kick in and compensate, so that by the end of day four or five I'd start to feel better and stronger by the end of the day. At my age now, it isn't like that. I keep myself in fairly good shape, but this is baking and not my usual restaurant work. It is dealing in 20kg flour sacks continuously, along with pulling 35 or 40kg dough out of an industrial mixing bowl one handful at a time.

[For weeks now my body has been steadily degrading; knuckles first, then wrists, then my back. Each of these things is being managed and I'm not doing anything stupid, but there is a steady strain that reflects the work being harder than my body has time to heal against before I start degrading it again.

[This last week has been the worst. Monday was the worst. I nearly reached the point of no return on Monday, as a fatigue set in that fairly destroyed me for about 18 hours. But since then I have been feeling better each day, which means I have probably now turned the corner.

[I hope that none of you have to do regular hard physical labor at 52; I thought I had put it behind me, but circumstances don't always ensure such things. I'm confident now that I'm on top of this, though I'll probably have some very hard days in the next week, particularly if I'm not careful about my energy expenditure when I'm off.]

cont...

Alexis Smolensk said...

[Right now, I have today and tomorrow to rest. I want to get some running done, I want to keep writing, I have a comic that is due tonight and I no long have a single comic in the bank. I'm doing them the day they're due, which sucks; but hopefully, if I can get stronger, I can get ahead of that game.

[In the meantime, I'm here, I'll move the game forward, presuming you're in the mood. I'll pick it up with a new post, as soon as I update the other campaign.]

Oddbit said...

I think if the big break says anything Alexis, it's that we're patient. If you need rest, or to work on work I can wait. I'm eager to know what's going on with the stranger, but I can wait if necessary.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.