"No, Gilfroy. No more goblins. At least not as of yet. Do not fret, my friend. None of us here will let any harm befall you, I promise." He pats him on the back.
As they walk up to the house and the boy comes to greet them, Rajah moves towards him in an attempt to help. As he draws near, he stops about ten feet from him so as not to appear threatening and bends at the knees to be eye level with him. "I think we should be asking you that, dear child. You are hurt. I can heal you of your injuries, if you'll allow me. We are not here to threaten, do not fear. We are actually here to investigate these goblin tribes and hope to put a stop to the trouble they have been giving Sandpoint. We've actually come in Shalelu's stead."
"Child? I am no child!" the halfling starts to say, but then waits for Rajah to finish. He perks up at the mention of goblins. "You're here to investigate goblins, you say? Yes, yes! That's an excellent idea. It's such a relief that you've come. I'm Walthus Proudstump, warden of the marsh. I've been worried about the goblins for some time. Just earlier today, a band of them attacked me. I fought them off, but they're getting very bold and I think they may be getting ready for an all-out attack on the humans of the area. You should definitely investigate them and put a stop to them right away if you can. You'll find them to the southeast. Just follow the Old Fish Trail."
Sense Motive DC 18:
Bluff: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
You can't help but get the feeling that Walthus is much too eager to get you to leave.
Aago strieds over to the halfling and stoops, extending his hand. "Well met, Warden! I am Aago Belwas. We've already encountered a few of the goblins. As her ladyship here inquires, we're especially interested in finding a grunge of goblins who've captured dogs, strange as that may seem."
"Actually, Master Proudstump, we came to ask you to aid us in finding the goblins to insure they stop being a menace to your town."
"My town?" Walthus says. "I think you mean your town. I don't have a town. I live out here on my own. And I'm quite capable of taking care of myself." He eyes the Blue Rajah and takes a few steps away from him.
"Dogs, you say? Yes, they did have some dogs with them when they attacked me. Very strange, I thought. They're clearly up to no good. Normally, I'd give you all the aid I could, but I'm afraid they've wrecked my home and stolen many of my things, including weapons I might use against them. I'd be more than happy, though, to point you in the right direction to their village. You just need to follow the Old Fish Trail. Take this trail that you used to get here and go back to the main road. Follow that part way around the swamp until you reach the next trail heading into the swamp. That's the Old Fish Trail. Just follow that and it will take you straight to the goblin village. You can't miss it!" He smiles broadly and points down the trail you come along.
Rajah eyes the halfling, curious to the instructions he's just given them. "Forgive me. I did not mean to offend. But you realize, that, what you ask forces us to completely retrace our steps. I am afraid we do not have that kind of time. We were intially instructed to head this way by Sheriff Hemlock, who gave us your name specifically, that you would aid us in this endeavor. You live out here in these lands, you know better than us that returning the way we came will take us practically the rest of the day. Why would you suggest such a course? There must be a quicker way?"
Melon gets up real close and personal with the halfling. She looks him right in the eye, nose-to-nose, bending straight at the hip and arms on her side, "What are you hiding? I can tell! You want to be rid of me, of all of us."
Walthus backs up a step as Melon comes in at him. "Hiding? What are you talking about? You asked for help with the goblins, and I'm trying to give you that help. But if this is the way you're going to treat me, then yes, I do want you gone. Go away! Get off my property and don't come back!" He turns and storms back towards the cottage.
"There's something not right here. He's well keen that one. To have us gone. Who is he anyway? Does anybody know details?"
Corinna looks perplexed and slightly relieved they're not actually going to have to turn around and walk all the way back. "Could there be two halflings in the swamp? Perhaps this one is impersonating the other one?"
Knowledge (local) to know anything about Warden Proudstump 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Melon shakes her head, wagging her finger at Corinna, "No no no, I've heard of the halfling Warden in the swamp; just not much - but I would've heard if there were two. I'll go have another look." Melon tries to get a look into the place through a window of some sort.
"Oh dear," Corinna remarks, as Gilfroy, Aago and Melon approach the unfriendly halfling's cottage. "Be careful! He must have some sort of defenses if he lives here all alone with the goblins so near. Dogs or crossbows or traps!" She glances at Malan and Rajah, still nearby. "I do wish there were somewhere to sit down. Master Alazario at the Academae -- he's quite a fat man, you know -- makes a point of conjuring up a chair any time he has to stand and wait anyplace. Leaves them lying all around the campus until they pop out of existence again. It's quite a game for the students, to take advantage of the chair without being the one sitting on it when it disappears. One time," she begins to laugh before arriving at the punch line of her own anecdote, "Master Albus of the abjuration school -- oh, nobody else would have dared, but he's been at the Academae forty years and isn't afraid of anything -- dispeled the chair right out from under him when we were waiting for the doors to open for the faculty convocation. He absolutely bounced, let me tell you! Oh, and the look on his face...." Her laugh trails off nervously at Malan's impassive stare. "I suppose you had to have been there," she finishes sheepishly.
All Corinna knows about Walthus Proudstump is that he is the self-declared warden of the swamp, and that he is said to be eccentric.
"Go away!" the halfling's voice yells in response to the knocking.
Moving about the outside, Melon notices a distinct lack of windows in the cottage, at least on this side. As she moves to the side, however, she does see a walled yard at the back. It is surrounded by a 10-ft tall brick wall.
I've added a new map to the website called "Warden Shack". Imagine the green area along the right side is swamp and to the left side is the lagoon. :)
Rajah places a finger on his lips, losing himself in thought, trying to understand the halfling who is suppose to be aiding them. Turning his attention to Corinna as she tells her story, Rajah smiles at the tale. "It must have been a fantastic sight." His attention quickly being drawn away by Gil and his incessant knocking, Rajah rolls his eyes and sighs. "Gilfroy, my friend," He looks to the door and back to Gil, "Must you?"
The door swings open and Walthus looks out angrily. "I said go away! What do I have--" He stops mid-sentence and looks a bit stunned that there is still knocking on the door, even though everyone is well back from the door. His eyes narrow. "I tried to be nice. I gave you directions, and now you do nothing but harass me. If you do not leave now, then I will be forced to take other measures. GOODBYE!" He slams the door shut again.
"I don't think he's being very helpful," Corinna says, pressing her lips tightly together. "From what the Sheriff said, I was under the impression he was a friend of Sandpoint." She steps up toward the door and calls out, "Sir, really, we don't mean to impinge upon your privacy! We wouldn't have come at all, except the sheriff expected that you would help us! We'll be happy to go away and leave you alone, but there must be a quicker way than going back the way we came! We've been walking all morning! You must understand how disheartening it is for us to be told we've wasted all that time for nothing!" She glances at Gilfroy, still fidgeting with his paintbrush. "I really don't think he's going to stop that knocking until we get directions!"
Diplomacy 1d20 ⇒ 8
She starts to giggle. "You know, it reminds me of this one time at the Academae ... Mistress Frothelthimble of the illusion school thought that Mistress Ambusta had been rude to her and offered extra credit to her students to keep up a constant ghost sound outside her office for eight straight days! Every time, one of them was discovered and sent away, another would start up. Of course, she could just silence the room, but then she couldn't get any work done either so.... Erm, I suppose it isn't that funny when you're on the receiving end, though," she calls through the door apologetically.
Rajah looks at Gilfroy with a disciplinary look, mouthing the words, 'Stop.' As Corinna finishes her pointless story, Rajah places a hand on her arm. "Corinna, love, um, maybe it would be best if you went and stood by Gilfroy." He says smiling as he directs her that way. Saying a quick prayer to Sarenrae,Cast Enhanced Diplomacy he moves to the door. Clearing his throat, "Good sir. Please forgive myself and my comrades for our rude behavior. This is your home and if you wish us to be gone, then you have every right as such. But please sir, I implore you, can we at least speak on why you wish us to begone so quickly when we are only here to help? I promise you this, if we can come to at least an understanding, we will begone and bother you no more. All I ask is an extra moment of your time. Please."
"Let us leave him. He does not wish to help. He did not want any help from us either. I remind all of you again, we have a mission to complete. Once we are done you can return and continue to harass him."
Aago considers for a moment, stroking his beard with one hand and then shrugs.
"Just because it's inconvenient for us to have to retrace our steps, it doesn't mean that's the wrong way to go. We might as well go back and see if we can find this 'Old Fish Trail.' If that doesn't work, we can always come back."
"Now, now. If Melon says she thinks he's hiding something, then he's hiding something. Perhaps somebody who's good at finding tracks should try to see if he's telling the truth about being attacked. In the meantime, if Rajah's niceboy routine doesn't work, well, you might not believe it, but I can be very irritating and annoying when I want to be."
"You want to know why I want you gone?" Walthus yells from inside without opening the door again. "Because you insult me, that's why! You accuse me of hiding something when all I've done is try to help you. I gave you directions like you asked, yet you didn't like them. Well, it's not my fault they're the correct directions. Yes, to get to the goblin village, you have to go back the way you came. Tough luck on you! I can't help that. I can't go with you as I'm injured and don't have any weapons. Now, unless you want to heal me up and give me a weapon, we're done here!"
Speaking loudly enough to be heard inside the cottage, Gilfroy says, "Yes, Corinna, Rajah did offer to heal him first thing, but he also referred to him as a child. Now I can speak from personal experience that those of us from the races that aren't too tall do find it naturally irritating when people do that, am I right, Master Proudstump? Perhaps we can all start this meeting over without the hard feelings. Both groups need help from the other - this shouldn't be too hard."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10 hmmmm...obviously choosing to start on a bad foot himself has colored his own Diplomacy chances with this guy. Maybe it's enough to aid Rajah.
Rajah begins to say something, then pauses with a look of confusion. I could have sworn I offered that intially. Shrugging, "Fair enough. As Gilfroy just mentioned, we can heal you, and one of the others, I'm sure, has a weapon you can use. But, it would far easier to heal you without a door between us. Please, come outside and let us start again." He finishes as he backs away from the door, waiting.
Busted by some Gilfroy. :)
Diplomacy:(no sense in wasting an Aid another) :)1d20 + 8 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 8 + 2 = 30I would consider that not wasted. :)
Walthus remains silent for a moment, and then the door opens slowly and he pokes his head out. "You're serious? You'd heal me? You have to understand, I was hesitant at first because I live in an unfriendly place. Few people would seriously offer such a service unbidden. Are you serious? This isn't some trick? If I let you touch me with one of your spells, you won't try to kill me or something? If you do this, I will go with you to fight against the goblins." He steps out of the door.
Walthus flinches a bit when he sees the dagger come out, but then relaxes as he realizes it's being offered to him. He snatches it out of the air and lets Gilfroy cast his spell. As his wounds heal over, he smiles broadly. "Thank you," he says, his smile turning to a sneer. "Time now to die."
There is a surprise round during which only Walthus can act.
The halfling's features suddenly blur and in an instant, a vaguely humanoid shape stands where Walthus once stood. It has leathery, hairless skin and a face dominated by grotesque and unsettling whorls and slits instead of actual features. It drops the dagger and whips a vaguely arm-like appendage at Gilfroy. Swift action to change form, free action to drop dagger, attack.
The creature's arm slams across the side of Gilfroy's head, instantly knocking him unconscious and wraps around him. Small, needle-like protrusions dig into his skin and begin to draw out blood.
Up Next: Aago, Malan, Blue Rajah, Gilfroy (unconsciou), Corinna, Melon, Walthus.
The trail and interior of the cottage are normal terrain. Everything else is difficult terrain. The grey line around the perimeter that looks kind of like a wall isn't there (in the adventure, several maps are printed side-by-side and the grey lines just divide the maps from one another).
Aago steps up and attacks, but the small creature ducks and avoids the blow. However, Malan moves in quickly after Aago. The creature is unprepared and so doesn't move in time to avoid Malan stabbing it. It only takes a small flesh wound unfortunately.
Next Up: Blue Rajah, Gilfroy (unconscious), Corinna, Melon, "Walthus", Aago, Malan.
Seeing the halfling transform into the current abomination and take Gilfroy out of commission with one fell swing, Rajah moves quickly to help out his diminutive ally. "Hang on, friend." He tells the unconscious gnome as he lays a healing hand on him.
The Blue Rajah's healing does not restore consciousness to Gilfroy, but it does at least, stop his bleeding. And it happens before Gilfroy has to make his first stabilization check, so no need to subtract 1 hp from that failed roll above.
Next Up: Corinna, Melon, "Walthus", Aago, Malan, Blue Rajah, Gilfroy (unconscious).
When she has overcome her initial shock at the Warden's transformation, Corinna calls out, "See? Impersonating the halfling! I was right!" One hand goes up to grasp the amulet at her neck, while the other's fingers fan out and slide through the air before pointing at Gilfroy as she speaks susurrant syllables. using bonded item to cast grease on Gilfroy; Reflex save DC 16 to keep hold of him
Hah! Is this a Melon vs Malan issue? Well, Malan won't need to get in, since Melon will act first.
Round 1, Initiative 4 AC 18; HP 10/10 Swift: activate Crane style Move: tumble to E8 Standard: attack "Walthus"
Melon spreads her arms wide and quickly dodges between her comrades and then leaps - arms still wide, like a bird - over the creature. She rolls head first and comes up standing on her feet just beyond "Walthus". It would've been perfect if her spinning backhand had connected, but it sails wide.
The creature that was Walthus turns its head quickly as Melon flips past it. It has no face or facial expressions, but it seems almost surprised by how quickly she gets by. Nonetheless, it is able to avoid her attack. It then lets go a Gilfroy, who drops to the ground, and whips a tentacle-like arm at Melon.
"Walthus" slam at Melon: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12 -- miss
A hissing sound of annoyance emits from somewhere in the vicinity of the creature's head.
Crane Style (Melon)
Snapping Turtle Style (Aago)
Arcane pool (Malan)
Next Up: Aago, Malan, Blue Rajah, Gilfroy (unconscious), Corinna, Melon, "Walthus"