In the human town of Trunau, a beleaguered settlement surrounded by the brutal orcs of the Hold of Belkzen, the heroes find themselves knee-deep in difficult problems only to see things go from bad to worse.
Please make a dot here and in the Discussion Tab. We will work on character building in that tab, and once that is complete, we can start the adventure here.
Jubilation fills the evening air in the normally staid town of Trunau, for it is the twelfth birthday of the Chief Defender's youngest daughter, Ruby, and the townsfolk have been preparing all day for the ceremony and festivities to follow. A throng of spectators has amassed at the town Commons; the buzz of the crowd subsides as the weathered town leader, Halgra of the Blackened Blades, takes the stage and begins to speak in her rumbling baritone:
"Thank you all for joining us this night, I take immense pride in my responsibility as Chief Defender, especially when it comes to the honor of the hopeknife ceremony. It is always a great privilege to bequeath Trunauan youths their hopeknives as they come of age," Halgra stops speaking long enough to open an ornamental case and retrieve a slender, ornately decorated dagger hanging from a silver chain. "But tonight is a special occasion, for the recipient of this fine hopeknife is none other than my youngest daughter." Once again, Halgra pauses, but this time she turns to talk to the child beside her.
"Ruby, by the tradition of our town, you have come of age. This hopeknife represents your responsibilities as an adult and defender of Trunau. You must be willing to use it on yourself, your fellow Trunauans, and your family -- even me, should it come to that. It will be a far quicker death than that which the orcs will offer, and providing it is your duty. Do you swear to guard Trunau from all comers, and to use your hopeknife only for its intended purpose?" Ruby, dark-skinned, black-haired and painfully shy nods her head once in response to her mother's question.
"If the orcs come, and there is no other option, this is where you cut -- here, here, and here." Halgra demonstrates which arteries to sever while Ruby watches solemnly. When she is finished, Halgra sheathes the hopeknife and places the necklace around Ruby's neck before turning to address the crowd.
"Tonight, Ruby becomes a full member of our community! Let us welcome her, and celebrate her passage into adulthood. Trunau forever!" The crowd echoes Halgra's last words in unison, signaling the end of the ceremony.
Once Halgra's speech ends, the townsfolk waste no time in transitioning to the more lighthearted festivities. Two handsome brothers, whom you recognize as Rodrik and Kurst Grath, the eldest sons of the town militia captain, announce a game of tug-of-war, and name Ruby captain. "Ruby, choose your team and choose wisely for you do not want to be defeated in your first battle!" says Rodrik to the girl with a smile.
Ruby scans the crowd with all the seriousness of her mother. Chewing on the end of one finger as she considers, there is a bit of an awkward pause. Finally, she jabs her finger at Baldek. "I want him! He talks funny!" says the child. She goes on to select each of you in turn, pulling you out of the crowd by the hand.
Soon, your team, with Ruby at the head, is ready on one side of a long thick hemp rope. Rodrik, Kurst and a group of other young guardsmen grab the other end of the rope, ready to make a game of it.
A bit like combat, the two teams will take turns, based on initiative, pulling the rope by rolling a d20 and adding the combined STR modifiers. Whichever side wins pulls the rope (and the opposing team) forward 5'. For every 5 points the other team's total is exceeded, they are pulled another 5'.
Nakoma and Zirelle both have a +3 initiative modifier so they can take turns rolling initiative for the party. The total STR modifier for the party is +10, another player can roll the parties STR check when ready. You can also react as you like to the ceremony in advance of the game.
Zirelle puts on her hopeknife before going to the ceremony, wondering what it is really supposed to mean, but knowing that she can't go back.
She grins as Ruby chooses her to be on her team, not knowing whether it is a very wise choice, but glad that the youth likes her.
Party Initiative for Tug-of-War:
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
Nakoma strode along the road towards the Commons as fast as her long legs could carry her. She was tall, and fit, with brown skin and dark brown eyes. Her head is shaved in the manner of the Shoanti, and her head is covered with an elaborate white star tattoo--a symbol of her faith in Desna. Other tattoos dot her face and neck, disappearing under her blue leather cuirass and practical clothes. Her arms are covered in many battle scars--most quite old, some newer--and more tattoos wind and curve between them, drawing attention to the scars, not hiding them. Her back is covered in old burn scars, though only the topmost parts of old melted skin show on her neck right now, covered up at they are by her armour and gear. She wears matching star knives on her hips and a bow and quiver slung over her back. Her hope knife dangles proudly around her neck.
Nakoma just finished her duty patrolling the town walls when the ceremony starts. She shows up sweaty and tired from a long day's work, but happy to be at the festivities. Its ceremonies like these that made Nakoma feel proud to become a Trunau. She smiles fondly at the thought of her own hope knife ceremony many years ago.
Nakoma mills through the crowd, standing alongside some of her comrades--fellow patrolmen and residents of the Longhouse. She claps a few of her closer friends on the back as she arrives, including Kurst and Rodrik.
"Just in time," she remarks to her comrades just as Ruby and Halgra reach the centre of the Commons.
Nakoma cheers loudly for Ruby during the ceremony, and claps as the young girl accepts her Hopeknife.
As Kurst and Rodrik bring out the rope and offer Ruby a challenge, Nakoma claps and cheers loudly. "Give them hell, Ruby!"
Being picked for the game of tug-of-war causes Nakoma to smile in surprise. She didn't know the child very well. Apparently she had good taste!
Nakoma cuts her way through the crowd, reaching the front and picking up the rope proudly. "You honour me, Ruby! Now do yourself honour. Hold tight, yes?" Nakoma gets ready to win.
"Prepare to be defeated!" she calls over to Kurst and Rodrik.
Rolling the party's strength check, for when we're ready!
Strength Check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Baldek is all smile as he gets picked by the new Trunauan: "By Torag girl! You chose right!" he roars with his voice like metal, his massive neck scar glowing red.
He had spent the early hours of dawn hammering at a reluctant helmet, thanking Torag for giving him another day to do His work.
For him, events such as these were the anvils on which communities were made strongest.
"Right you all! Let's show resolve! Plant your feet!"
Would Dwarven stability help in some way? This is like an inverse bull rush of sort, somehow...
Nakoma plants her feet and waits for the rest of her team to join her...
Zan was about to start finding somewhere to watch the festivities further with the tug of war from a good vantage point when Ruby chose him. He carefully put his gear aside and removed his cloak. He wrapped his forearm around the rope to aid his grip and dug his feet in. He gritted his teeth and strained as the tug of war began inernest.
Tug of War - Round 1
Grasping the rope, with the young Ruby at the fore, the chosen heroes dig in and begin pulling. Barely getting the drop on the guardsmen, the heroes use that momentum to start the tug, gaining 5' on their adversaries as the guardsmen feet slip slightly.
Rope moves +5' for the party. When it move 30' either way, there is victory. Failed to mention that whoever wins Init roll each round gets a +2 bonus on STR check. Party amount is lowered without the magus and with Ruby's -1 modifier.
Guard's Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Party check, initiative bonus: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 7 + 2 = 22
Guard Check: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
Let's have another initiative roll. Any party member can make the STR check also.
Nakoma, I think you are up to roll initiative.
Zirelle puts all she has into the effort, trying to help win for Ruby's sake. :)
Nakoma grits her teeth and digs in, ready for the next round.
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Ouch, sorry guys!
It's someone else's turn to make our strength check.
Tug of War - Round 2
"We're just taking it easy on you, Nakoma, on Ruby's account!" cries Rodrik Grath with his usual self-assured manner. Behind him, his brother Kurst, who is much more introverted, just bits his lip and pulls harder, the muscles in his neck straining wit the effort. At first the other group gets a bit of traction, but as Ruby's team really bears down, Kurst slips and falls, and the rope moves nearly all the way to your side.
Your modifier is only +7 as noted above, so your result is 15 more than the guardsmen which means you move the rope 3 squares (15') this turn! Wow! The rope is now +20ft your direction, only 10' more to go!
Guard Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
Guard check, bonus: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 7 + 2 = 10
We can begin Round 3 when your side makes their initiative and STR check.
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Trying to distract the other team, Zirelle says to Nakoma (loud enough to be overheard, which is pretty much the point)
Wow, that Kurst is cute!
Diplomacy (if you can use it to distract--?): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Nakoma lets out a barking laugh. "Put your muscles where your mouth is, Rodrik!"
Strength: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Tug of War - Round 3
Continuing to pull hard, the heroes are surprised when the guardsmen really put their backs into it, gaining some of the lost ground back. "Did you hear that Kurst! The new girl is sweet on you," chides the older brother Rodrik. "Maybe you'll have a date for Harvestfest this year after all..." Ruby giggles at the flirtatious distraction.
Guard Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Guard STR, distraction: 1d20 + 7 - 1 ⇒ (19) + 7 - 1 = 25
Rope goes the other way 5', which means it now at +15' your direction. I gave a penalty for the distraction even though there is no rule mechanism for it, per se. Thought it was as good a strategy as any...They just out rolled you this time. On to the next round...
Nakoma's turn to roll initiative.
Zirelle grins at Kurst and concentrates on pulling with all her strength.
Group Strength check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Digging in, and pulling with all her might, Nakoma grits her teeth and growls with effort.
Tug of War - Round 4
Sweat beads on the brows of the guardsmen and sinews stand out as they strain to pull on the rope, all pretense of fun slipping away. Here you can see the steel determiniation of those who have chosen the barren rock of Bloodmarch Hill as their home. The don't give up and they don't give in. They fight for all they are worth.
The guardsmen get a bit of headstart, but Ruby's Team conunters, digging deep. This round ends in a draw.
As noted above, the +10 modifier was with the magus included nd without Ruby's penalty. As such the party's modifier on STR check is +7 not +10. With the initiative bonus, the guardsmen tied you. Let's go anothe round...
Guards Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21
Guards STR init bonus: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 7 + 2 = 25
Darn. I thought we had them that time.
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Strength Check: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
"Don't give up any ground! PULL!"
Tug of War - Round 5
Pulling and straining, the heroes get the guardsmen moving, and are able to pull them 10' more before the other side can dig in to save themselves. "Just a little farther!" shouts Ruby excitedly. The crowd cheers heartily, seeing the contest is almost won.
Round 6 init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Round 6 STR: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
That sets a pretty high bar, Let's see if you can win it all or have to give some ground back.
Initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
"Hang on, Ruby! We can do this! PULL!"
Group Strength Check: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 7 + 2 = 24
Come on! We can do it!
I think that is a tie again, unless I miscalculated again. Rolling initiative for round 6, so I don't hold anything up while I am at church.
Initiative round 6: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 = 23
Wow. Too bad that wasn't our strength check. :)
Group Strength Check: 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 7 + 2 = 21
I'm assuming we beat the other team on the initiative. You know, given the odds, and what little I know of probabilities, this is very likely to take a long time and a lot of rolls. If it drags too long, then I suggest we move objective closer than 30'. I'm also ok with dragging :)
Nakoma lets out a great growl as she pulls, straining an pulling with everything she's got.
Tug of War - Round 6
The sides seem evenly matched after initial successes by Ruby's crew but this round ends in a draw.
Tug of War - Round 7
With a last burst of strength, Ruby's team pulls the rope the last needed bit of distance to be the victors. The guardsmen go sprawling, and the crowd lets out a great cheer, many of the bystanders congratulating Ruby on her first victory as an adult. In fact, they pick up the young lady and parade her around the Commons on their shoulders while you and the other side try to recover your breath from the strain of the event.
STR Check Guards: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
Winning the tug-of-war game earns the PC's 400xp, or 100 per player. Since we are using Standard Advancement rules, that means you are 5% towards leveling up. Well done!
Zirelle tells her team Well done, and then goes over to help the guardsmen up. Good try, guys. No hard feelings, I hope?
Panting hard, Rodrik and Kurst come up to the group after the struggle offering congratulations. "It seems Ruby chose wisely for her side. I know Nakoma's a bit of a wild one, but the rest of you put on a good show. We were ready to let Ruby win, didn't know we'd get pulled over the line for our trouble!" The young man has dark hair and eyes with a neatly trimmed goatee and mustache. He has the good-natured self-confidence of a leader of men. And his eyes are brimming with merriment during the evening's affairs.
His twin brother, Kurst offer his hand to shake, but says nothing, content to let his "older" brother do all the talking. Kurst looks very similar to his brother with dark eyes and hair, but his face is more lined with worry than laughter. His hair is a bit unkempt and a scraggly beard grows along his jaw line.
As Kurst shakes hands with Zirelle, his embarrassment at her earlier comments about him show, and his ears turn a beet-red color. He doesn't meet the young lady's gaze but stares purposefully at the ground.
"C'mon Kurst, she isn't going to bite. Not yet at least..." says Rodrik playfully, slapping his younger brother on the back.
"Praise Torag!" shouts Baldek with his coarse voice as he raised the girl as high as his arms could lift, which was not high enough. Instead, he clangs his hammer on his armour.
He was happy, genuinely happy, for he saw those events as the hammering of a society into a tool for good. Torag be praised indeed, for Baldek saw in these simple acts the patient working of the greatest of strategist.
Feel free to RP the interaction with the Grath brothers, the following is just more background.
Throughout the rest of the evening's festivities, you all have the chance, either together, or separately, to mingle with the rest of the denizens of Trunau. Most are warm and friendly, echoing the good cheer of the event, but like every crowd, a few are dour or cold. The celebration goes on well into the night, and there is enough food and libation for everyone.
You may make the checks below to see what info you gather during the party. Long time residents (greater than 5 years) may take a +5 circumstance bonus on the below and add to an untrained result (die roll caps at 10 if untrained).
Nakoma claps happily for Ruby when they win the match, then pats each of her team-mates on the backs.
As Ruby gets carried around the commons, Nakoma goes to offer her friends, Rodrik and Kurst, a hand up, but raises an eyebrow as she sees Zirelle already helping them. She points at Zirelle behind her back and mouths the following at Kurst: "She wants you!" clearly teasing him further.
Once they've introduced themselves to Zirelle, Baldek and Zan, Nakoma claps each of the brothers on the back. "Well fought, my friend," she tells each of them in turn.
She turns to Zan, Baldek and Zirelle. "I'm Nakoma, as I'm sure you've heard by now. I'm a work the walls, mostly. The outskirts, sometimes. I'm sorry, but I don't know all of your names."
When she spots Ruby again, Nakoma places a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Congratulations on taking the Vow." she tells her seriously. "I am proud to be Trunau alongside you. Be well, Ruby." She then leaves the girl to celebrate with her friends and family.
Nakoma enjoys the rest of the night, drinking heartily with her fellow guards, as well as with her new team-mates, and getting up to dance wildly every now and then when the mood takes her.
"It's times like this that make Trunau so special..." she muses aloud in between taking long sips of her ale, clearly happy to be at the celebration.
Partway through the night she approaches Kurst. "So, do you like her?" she asks honestly, elbowing the poor fellow lightly in the side.
When she spots Sara Morninghawk, she smiles and gives the half-orc a big hug. "Greetings, my sister!" she tells her in Shoanti, switching back to common nearly immediately. "How's your beloved?"
Nakoma passes polite greetings to many people, but is clearly close friends with only the guards and Sara Morninghawk.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 0 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 0 + 5 = 12
Kurst continues to be embarrassed by the insinuatino that Zirelle likes him, and his natural shyness is apparent to all. Rodrik on the other hand is lively and vivacious, chatting with all around. There are calls for him to read from his latest work, but he stifles them with a raised hand. "Now, now! This is Ruby's night. Let's celebrate her. There is plenty of time to hear my feeble attempts at writing! To Ruby!" and he lifts a hearty mug of ale in her honor once again.
As Nakoma approaches Sara Morninghawk, the muscular smith gives her a toothy smile. "Things are well, Nakoma, child of the wilderness, or at least as well as they can be in Trunau. I have a new apprentice at Clamor and she takes a bit more patience than I possess, but Agrit helps me through it." She points out the dwarven councilor who is in a discussion with Halgra of the Black Blades across the Commons.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 = 23
Baldek stays with the revellers and shares many drinks and laughs with them. He learns a lot that night!
To Ruby, which he congratulates warmly, he says: "A true honour for you, I'm sure! And you'll probably want something a little bigger than a knife to do your share in defense of the town, or perhaps a suit of armour to keep you safe? Well, I tell you what, I'll give you a great discount. Just come to the forge and ask for me. I'm an apprentice there, so it will cost you less, plus the discount. Torag guide my hand! It will be a weapon or an armour to remember!"
He also keeps in touch with his fellow tuggers, drinking to their mutual health. To all of them, and to every one they meet, he makes similar offers, without the discount...
Nakoma laughs at Sara's complaints. "If irritation is the greatest of your woes, you are blessed!"
Knowledge Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
"This Torag you give praise to. He is your god? Tell me of him. I know naught but his name."
"You are Sara's new apprentice, are you not? I have heard of you. Is she a fair master?"
"You're the person who moved into the old Landau place, yes? By the Ivory Hall? Tell me, how are you settling into Trunau?"
"And you train under Agrit?"
"How was your recent patrol on the outskirts? I hear you took down a nasty trap for the scouts?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
"I'm Nakoma, as I'm sure you've heard by now. I'm a work the walls, mostly. The outskirts, sometimes. I'm sorry, but I don't know all of your names."
Zirelle responds to Nakoma, but addresses all of her Tug-of-War teammates (sans Ruby, who is being carted around on people's shoulders).
I'm Zirelle. From Lastwall, originally. ... Also, this might sound weird, but you know those weird lights that show up at that place people call the "Plague House?" I can see them out my window sometimes at night. I don't know very many people here, and thought... maybe... you guys would be willing to come check it out with me?
She grins. We've made a good team so far, after all.
"You're the person who moved into the old Landau place, yes? By the Ivory Hall? Tell me, how are you settling into Trunau?"
"And you train under Agrit?"
Honestly, I have no idea who used to live there. Who were they?
Train under... well, I wouldn't exactly... I'm not an apprentice. I actually work for Halgra. Agrit is just teaching me some defensive spells so I can help the city more.
The forums ate my post... But seeing at taking ten would get the same result I'll ignore it.
"The trap wasn't too bad to disarm but vicious. Some of those orc hunters get very creative." Zan would take note of whatever tattoos Nakoma has.
He turns his gaze towards Zirelle "An exotic foreign woman inviting me to a secluded spot... Sounds like a set up for an ambush but it's my job to check those out." He gives her a nod.
"I'll have to take you up on that offer once I have the money to pay you for the equipment."
Nakoma raises an eyebrow at Zirelle. "The Plague House? That place is cursed by the spirits. You should not go alone. I will accompany you, when I have time free of my duties."
"The Landau's? It... matters not. They're souls have departed us now, soaring up into the stars with the smoke from the Flames of the Fallen. I apologize. It is your home now. Do you enjoy it?"
"You work with Halgra? That is a great honour. What duties do you perform for her?"
"Well done, Zan. I'm sure many lives were saved by your efforts.".
Nakoma's oldest tattoos are very stylized, traditional Shoanti tattoos. Many represent stars, planets and the skies. The newest tattoo are still stylized, but their topics are less inspired by her past and more by the present. Symbols like the Flames of the Fallen, spirits drifting into the skies, recognizable sigils from throughout the town. There are also a LOT of butterflies--both old and new.
Baldek smiles at Zirelle: "With great honour! Did you tell the Watch about it? I sometimes go on patrol with them. They might know of it..."
To Nakoma, Baldek recites what little he knows of Torag, and it is very little, but his faith resonates through his words. "I deserved death, and was given a second chance. I am reborn, reforged by Him." As he discusses, he looks with interest at her tattoos, finding in them inspiration for new decorations for his work. People were already complaining about his monotonous and repetitious use of anvils and hammers...
"I nearly died, and was given a second chance." Nakoma replies to Baldek. "But it was not Torag who reforged me, it was the people of Trunau. Desna guided me to them." She seems to be thinking for a while. Eventually she comments. "Those of us on our second lives are blessed. There is great pain in the dying of a life, and much hardship in the rebirth, but the life that comes after... Not everyone gets that chance. There are many people such as us, here in Trunau. Many survivors. You are welcome here, Baldek."
After much celebration, and in some cases, too much strong drink, the party begins to wind down and you find yourselves heading for your various places of rest. The Ramblehouse, a long, sprawling boarding-house is the home of most travelers or newcomers until they find permanent lodging, while the Longhouse is the barracks for the militia men and women. Baldek has a tent pitched outside his new forge, hoping for more business and Zirelle has found lodging in a now vacant small home near the home of Chief Defender Halgra.
You go to sleep that night with smiles on your faces, satisfied in the hope of new friendship and the warmth of a tight-knit community. Despite the massive dangers of living in the midst of the Hold of Belkzen, you feel safety as you drift off to sleep, as if everything is right with the world.
Unfortunately, that cannot last...