You see no movement.
The board suspended from the dead man's neck is covered in writing... though the stylized small print is difficult from a distance.
who needn't not have died,
when one hangs themselves, tis more the shame...
though twas only he who cried.
As we rode to here we studs on mares, the very ground gave way.
Bulman bucked, and Jeb balked, but the rest were not such easy prey.
I saw the perpetrating pasty thing - hiding as Bulmy went tumbling downward.
Robe-garbed fingers wiggling. Ha! You tricky little coward.
He tried to scare us off.. with words of his past deeds,
I've blinded a troll! Mess with me.. and you will come to see!
How random. How odd... Is he loony? Yes, no doubt, indeed!
At least I think that's what it was.. that I did think to me.
He would not pay or take a knee at first,
That was his second transgression.
Even if it killed him or worse,
we would teach him an invaluable lesson.
He pleas did spring at the point
with ev'ry finger pulled out of joint.
Though his mortal coil has had enough,
In his honor I dub this hill Blinder's Bluff!"
"Topper Red, Poet Laureate of the Stag Lord."
Coramus follows behind Vlad, reading the demented little poem. Brows furrowed, he casts detect magic, scanning the dead man and the entryway for lingering spells. If he finds none and if no one else objects, he gives the body a quick search, also looking for cause of death.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Heal: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Vorik dismounts and steps up with the others. With a deep scowl he reads the poem and nods his agreement with Hrafen. "Perhaps it's time we dealt with them."
He then grabs a shovel from his pack and starts working on a grave for the dead man. As he does so he thinks on Wren's question. "Could be they use it as a signal fire." He suggests.
After his inspection, Coramus says a quick prayer for the dead.
"Maybe we should look inside the structure and make sure it is abandoned?"
He listens to Vorik, nodding in agreement. The sooner these bandits were dealt with, the better. He thinks on it some more, then adds, "Once we verify that the structure is empty, maybe we should light the fire and see who comes. We'd have the structure itself as an advantage. Take cover and feather them from the safety of the rooms."
It does not take long to verify that there is no one around. The inside of the tower is filled with burnt scraps and scorched sacks. Some of the debris was likely at one point the ceiling - which is now gone.
On top of the soot-covered mess are a few bottles worth of broken glass, and small animal bones - picked clean.
The ruined wooden structure looks to have been merely a modest dwelling from what you can see of the destroyed furniture and the toppled fireplace - stone splayed out in the tall grass just to the right of it.
The flooring is broken in more than a few places. Tall flowering weeds poke through the largest of the holes.
(cursory look... feel free to make any "investigative" rolls. Perception rolls I asked for were already used, and do not apply here.)
He appears to have died from several stabbing and slashing wounds.
He has no possessions on his person.... you see abrasion marks on his wrist and base of his hand - looks like someone forced a tight bracelet from him.
You detect no magic auras
While the others search the tower, Vorik works to finish burying the remains. Every few minutes he takes a moment to scan the countryside for any sign that the bandits are returning.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
There is little of note, and less of worth in the squat burned-out tower. There is broken shelving, books burnt to the binding, cooking supplies...
Though most of the non-structural debris is gardening tools and supplies.
You find no traps, but you find a backpack, and satchel hidden in the broken floor (at first glance appear to be filled with mundane survival gear). They had been placed in a wine bottle flat/crate and slid out of view. Also in the crate is a worn spyglass.
50' hemp rope
2 outfits (one "explorer's", one "traveler's")
6 tightly sealed rations
A spool of fine wire, small hammer and pegs.
A journal cover filled with pages ripped from a heraldry book.
It looks like someone drew a few clouds of various lengths on each page.
One blank page near the end has these same fluffy clouds drawn next to numbers.
Glenrenil looks through the journal and comes to a conclusion. She turns to the group and says "Hey, I think the fire is suppose to be a signal fire. Look." She shows the group a journal cover filled with pages ripped from a heraldry book. It looks like someone drew a few clouds of various lengths on each page. One blank page near the end has these same fluffy clouds drawn next to numbers. "The clouds on the heraldry pages are for who is coming, and the clouds on the blank page are for how many. I found this and some survival gear under the floor boards in the tower."
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Vorik finishes a quick prayer to the gods for the fallen man's soul. Then he turns to the others as they continue to prepare for an encounter with the bandits. "Aye, we can go ahead and light the fire."
He scans the surrounding landscape again, noticing the distance that he can see, and thus be seen as well. "But there is the chance we'll attract something more than just bandits. Does anyone know how to set a few snares or other simple traps that might slow down other predators who might be drawn to the blaze?"
Glenrenil still thinking about the smoke signals, begins to formulate a plan. "Perhaps we could use this to our advantage. If the fires were to alert someone about troop movements then we could send false signals. I'm assuming the Stag Lord has some kind of fortification. When we find it we could lure out his forces then we could attack at the root. So I say we, leave this pile alone. So the bandits will think there system is still good, and we have a plan for the future."
"There in lies the problem. We do not know what the signal fire is going to mean to those who are watching for it. We have to accept that there is uncertainty in any route we choose." the swordsman says, playing the devil's advocate.
"May I see the pages?" Vladimir asks, hoping to make heads or tails of the heraldry.
Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Knowledge (Nobility): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Knowledge (History): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Well so much for that...
All that you can glean from the book is that these are likely minor noble family crests since you don't recognize the names. There is little or no information about the families... only the page containing the crest, name, and motto.
I see the party leaning toward leaving this (lighting the signal fire) as a later option? Next decision would be... camp here? You have about an hour of light... enough time to move somewhere else within a couple miles if you wish.
After studying the pages, Vladimir returns shaking his head. "Nothing more than what is likely minor noble family names and crests. Not really sure about the age either, I do not recognize any of these names."
I would say light the fire and stay here in the tower as it would give us a defensible position should we have a fight on our hands.
Vorik nods at Wren's response and then shrugs. "Aye, this is as good a place as any to fight." He says. Then pulling his shovel back out he starts to dig. "It'll likely take them a few hours to get here. Might as well dig a few pits or trenches for a little cover and to help funnel them where we want. Anyone have any preferences on position or tactics?"
"If anyone has another shovel I would not mind helping dig. I am best with a crossbow, so I would likely want to be inside, where there is cover. My suggestion would be to let them close, with two or three of us inside and the other 2 or 3 around back, mounted. When they get close enough, those inside fire arrows and bolts at them. When battle commences, the mounted party members would ride around the building. The enemy will either press and be flanked, or will rout and will be ridden down and/or feathered."
"No time like the present, I suppose." Vladimir says pulling out his flint and steel. "Let's get into position, I will be with you shortly after lighting the fire."
After lighting the fire, Vladimir re-mounts Shadow and takes his position behind the tower.
Two hours pass without a sign. The fire starts to die. Though Vorik offers to put more wood on the fire, Vladimir is off his horse first.
He stokes the fire and has one foot in the stirrup to mount when...
You hear a voice from the south... it is difficult to determine how far away at first.
"Hey.... Bulmy? Uhh... is'at you?"
...ten second pause...
"Thought you were dead, Bulman. Was sure we'd check on ya before now..."
He is around 100' away.. somewhere just south of (dd,12-14) on the map.
You hear him making little "Hmm?" and "Mhmm" noises...
suggesting he is not alone.
Vl or Vo: 1d2 ⇒ 1
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Vorik looks off to the south after hearing the voice, but he doesn't have a good sense of where the man's exact location. Holding his mount steady and quiet, he continues to wait for the bandits to show themselves.
Animal Handling: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18 Possibility of knowing the name?
In as non descript of a voice as he can muster, Vladimir responds, "Yup, still here."
Perform (Act) - Untrained: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4 Well that didn't go as planned
After responding, Vladimir finishes mounting Shadow before riding back to quietly speak with Vokik.
"Not sure how many are there, but the one who is speaking is about a hundred feet off to the south. Be ready."
There is a pause after Vladimir responds.
The voice is now closer. "Yeah. Saw the light. Heh... So holding up alright?... I mean good to hear yer alive and all. Took quite a tumble."
There is another pause. You can hear them step onto the rough gritty surface of the clearing.
"Uh. Bulman? Where you at?"
and then another voice "Somethin inn't right, Jeb. Don't think that was him."
Jeb again... now sounding irritated. "Bulmy?!"