Campaign Time: Year 597 PH, Spring
You and the Prince, Armand, are in Armand’s Apartment in the royal quarters of the castle. This wouldn’t be the first time you’ve been in the royal apartments; it’s been practically your second home. This night sees you and the prince playing at a game of Dragon Chess, a game of strategy among the Kethlenica educated. You and the prince are pretty evenly matched, having grown up playing the game with each other. In the apartment next door, you can hear Kiriana, Armand’s sister and princess moving about her apartment talking with her mother, the Queen.
“Check” says the Prince, a wide grin on his face.
“We're not done YET Armand” you state, moving out of check.
The prince looks up at you with a mischievous smile on his face and says “You know, I am part of the royal family, would it kill you to address me as ‘My Leige’ or ‘My Prince’ or even ‘Your Majesty’, yes, I like ‘Your Majesty’, you shall address me as ‘Your Majesty’ from here on."
Intimately familiar with the Princes tactics of distraction, a knowing grin finds its place on Dirks face.
"Would your Mother approve of the way you use your Royal Heritage to distract your opponents? Perhaps we should ask her?"
Dirk gestures to wall through which the Queens voice can be heard.
"Could it be that *His Majesty* fears his wits alone will not find him a victory?"
Should I be numbering my spoilers?
“You know” says Armand “one day I will be King, and then I suppose I shall get my wish. I wonder what our fathers and their advisors are discussing this night. I tell you true my friend that I do not look forward to being the one sitting in that council meeting deciding how best to split our limited military to oppose all the threats we face.”
Then with a growing grin on his face, Armand says:
“Especially when I can be sitting here in the comfort of my room beating you at Dragon Chess...check and..."
But the final word never fell, a huge crash from the ground floor echoes up through the stone floor and in from the hallway. Both of you look stunned for a few seconds when the sound of metal on metal briefly rings out.
“A homeguard training exercise this late at night?” Armand asks you, obvious disbelief in his voice.
The agonized scream of one of the staff and the shout of a homeguard member, cut off into a gurgle abolishes that notion immediately.
“BROADSWORD, BROADSWORD! MY PRINCE STAY IN THE ROOM! DIRK PROTECT THE PRINCE WITH YOUR LIFE!” comes the shout of one of the two homeguard soldiers positioned outside the door.
The call of broadsword strikes terror in your heart. You know that part of the training the homeguard receives is preparation for various emergency protocols around the kingdom. From fire and flood, to war and invasion, the homeguard uses keywords for quick identification of a threat to the kingdom.
Broadsword is the protocol for Assassination attempt, meaning the castle is under attack and has already been breached. As an officer in training, you understand the protocol: Protect the King and the Prince at all costs, everyone else is expendable...including yourself.
Another scream and gurgle from the ground floor and now some shouting.
“I’m going out there!” Says the prince, drawing his longsword and starting for the door.
No, you don't need to number your replies, I'll manage through the numbers on mine.
For some reason I can't selecet the tab for the Stat block on the latest version of sCoreGen. Here are the basics of the profile, but I guess I'll have to type in the text the hard way. I'll try to get to that this afternoon or tonight. Visiting the folks out of town this weekend, and on a business trip all next week, but still should be able to post most evenings.
Drawing his Elven Curved Blade with both hands Dirk moves to intercept the Prince.
"Armand! Wait! Your safety is paramount! Stay behind me - we've got to make it to your Father so the Kings Guard and I can protect you both."
With that, Dirk opens the door to ensure the hallway is clear.
If the hallway is clear, Dirk, with the Prince in tow, will walk out into the hallway taking the most direct route to the Kings meeting room.
I assume the Prince and Dirk know where the King and his council are meeting. Is it on the 2nd floor? Or down on the first near the sounds of battle?
Experience Award (Role Play): 100 xp - For properly identifying and understanding your Role as the prince's protector.
You do, in fact, know where the King and his advisers are.
Quick Castle Layout:
The Royal Quarters are situated up the stairs from the main foyer of the castle. Upon coming in the front door you enter the foyer, a large greeting room. Back along the left hand wall (facing into the castle from the doorway) of the foyer, a door leads to a hallway where the homeguard reside and work, as well as the War Room (where the king and his advisers were in council). Down the right side of the foyer are the servants areas. Behind the foyer lay the formal audience hall with doors branching off to the common areas like the formal dining hall, the mess hall, etc. In the foyer is a staircase leading up to the second floor where the residence, guest rooms, and other more private areas are. Both your room and the Royal Residence are on the second floor, but on opposite sides of the upstairs hallway.
Perception 17 success
As you start to lift the heavy iron locking bar up along it's anchored pivot to release the door, you detect the squeak of a poorly oiled crossbow winch, your warrior instinct causing you to hesitate in throwing the locking bar aside. Mere seconds later you hear the distinctive CLICK of a heavy crossbow and then a grunt and thud from outside the door.
A second "CLICK" is followed almost immediately by a THUNK and CRACK as a crossbow bolt slams into the door, the point of the head of the crossbow bolt penetrating through the almost inch thick wooden door by half an inch, splintering the wood around it (but holding). The vibration of that tremendous hit loosens your grip on the locking bar and it drops back into place with a resounding CLANG as you instinctively step back from the impact.
"NAME OF THE ABYSS" You hear one of the homeguard curse, "KEEP THAT DOOR SHUT OR THEY'LL SKEWER YOU!" The click of a lighter crossbow from near the door, followed by a scream from farther down the hall tells you that the homeguard are returning fire.
The shouting is now getting closer as seems to have moved to the top of the stairs at the far end of the hall. You can hear more bodies, and weapons, hit the floor. Obviously the battle is moving toward your room.
Make another Perception Check Please.
There is another way out that's not "the hallway", there is a window in the room you could squeeze through, but you've got a 20' (at least) drop to an open/exposed courtyard. I'll cover Secret Passages in text.
Prince Armand looks somewhat more sobered and controlled now, after the crossbow bolt and the door.
"Hallway's no Good" says Armand, backing away from the door and the still quivering bolt that almost penetrated. "There's a secret door out of here but it leads down toward the armory and the military wing ( Same area as the War Room and the homeguard barracks). There's a way out to the courtyard from there, but with my Father in that area that's likely where the heaviest fighting is taking place. We'll take it if they decide to break through but I really don't want to be blocked into a narrow corridor with enemies at both our front and back. If we can get down from the window, however, we can get in through the exit to the courtyard and maybe open a clear way for the advisers and my father to get out."
Suddenly another cry of agony from the corridor outside draws your attention, a hard metal object hits the stone floor ringing out and then, a relative silence. The clicking of crossbows and the sound of metal on metal, at least from the immediate vicinity, stops. You can still hear fighting from other parts of the castle...particularly from the lower floor.
You then hear the sound of Hard soled boots outside the room, followed by a loud set of knocks as the pommel of a sword is rapped hard against the door.
Through the wooden barricade you hear the familiar voice of your father, saying "Blood of the Kingdom! Open the damn door, and HURRY!"
You recognize the words for more than they sound, "Blood of the Kingdom" is a pass phrase your father set up with you a long time ago, denoting both that it is really him and that he's in no immediate danger.
As you open the door and glance into the hallway you see a grizzly scene. Several men, all covered in black leather armor and wearing a full black hood lay in various states of death, or groaning out their last moments, on the floor. An equal or better number of bodies clothed in homeguard colors lay about as well. In all, nearly 30 dead or dying men lay sprawled through the hallway and down to the stairwell. Doing quick calculations you assume this must account for the majority of the contingent of homeguard outside of the homeguard barracks area of the castle...the entire second floor must stand mostly unguarded at this point.
Your glance is brief and quickly blocked off as in comes your father, his shining plate armor covered in blood (as far as you can tell very little of it his own), his well used shield dented in at least two new places and a deep notch in the usually meticulously cared for bastard sword your father usually wields.
Leaning heavily on his arm is the King, white faced and bleeding heavily from a wound in his side carrying the broken hilt of what used to be a well used mace, the sharp end of the handle itself covered in blood. Two homeguard soldiers, their uniforms cut to ribbons and their chain armor scratched and cut in several places stumble in as well. When you close and lock the door they lean back against it, breathing heavily.
You look your father in the eye at that moment and an understanding passes between you: of the 15 or so homeguard stationed in and between the war room and the royal suite only these two made it to this room, and neither of them look as if they'll last the night, let alone another battle. A crossbow bolt is deeply driven through the side of one of the guards, to a depth that can’t have missed his heart by more than a few inches. The other homeguard soldier in the room seemed to have faired no better, a deep cut across the right side of the forehead as well as a long and bloody slash across the inside of his leg, rhythmically pumping out blood, signal that neither man have long to live. “They’ll need a distraction” says your father to the two homeguard soldiers.
Both homeguard soldiers, saluting the king and then your father, lift the locking bar, open the door and stumble out into the corridor, your father fast closing, and locking, the door as the two guards leave.
“FATHER!” Prince Armand Gasps, running to the wounded king.
Another look crosses between you and your father, your father shakes his head.
“Armand, you and Dirk must go.” says the King.
“No” says Armand “I will not leave you here to be butchered, come with us!”
Removing his hand from his still bleeding wound the King says “Armand, I cannot.”
“Father there are healing potions…”
“The wound is poisoned my Son, it cannot close on its own and it resists the effects of the potions.”
“May as well be a hundred miles from here and guarded by a host of assassins. Besides, your Sister and Mother need my help if they are to survive this night. You must escape; you must continue the royal line of Kethlenica. So long as you live, Kethlenica lives. Go, leave the kingdom, find an army if you must and avenge me, avenge Kethlenica.”
The King removes the signet ring from his hand, the official seal of Kethlenica, and hands it to the Prince. “Take this, it will provide you some protection on the road and mark you as the King of Kethlenica. Go to the armory, equip yourselves for travel and head to Southport. If you are quick, you should be able to catch a ship and depart the kingdom. Find help, and then take back your throne. Head for Landfall, that should be enough distance to put off the assassins.”
A look of horror crosses Armand’s face “Mom…Kiri…!”
The King and your Father look at each other and nod. Your father then looks at you and says “Go with the Prince Dirk, he is your charge now. YOU are now charged with his protection, he is your King. Get him to Southport, get him to safety. If we survive this, we will find you. Do not leave word as to where you are, this assassination attempt was too well planned to stop at just the King himself. They will track you, both of you. Remain in hiding but keep your ears to the ground. When the time is right, you’ll know what to do.”
Your father then kneels before the prince and says “On my honor and on my life my liege we will do all that we can to protect your sister and your mother and get them out of the castle. When they are safe, we will find you. Go, and may the Kings and Queens of Kethlenica watch over you.”
A shared look of shear determination passes between the Prince and Dirk. "My life before yours. Let's be away from here."
Dirk hands one end of a silk rope to his Father and throws the remainding line out the open window.
"I'll go first to ensure the area is clear. Follow behind me."
With a last look at his Father, Dirk nods and decends into the night.
I'd give you a climb check, but with all the drama going on I thought it would ruin the flow of the story if Dirk fell on his arse. I'm hoping you'll let him take a 20 on this one. :)
Choking back some tears at the parting the Prince straightens, salutes your father, goes to one knee in front of the King and says "Blood of the Kingdom, may the Gods be with you."
Rising hastily, the Prince hangs his mace on his belt and starts forward, catching you before you exit out the window.
"Dirk, when we get to the courtyard below there's an entrance to the armory just down the wall about twenty paces. We need to equip and there's another way out from the armory that is a straight shot to the stables across the courtyard."
As you swing out onto the rope and start down, out of the corner of your eye, you see a black dressed man ducks out from behind one of the outbuildings with a loaded crossbow in hand and takes aim. From a window above you comes a shout and a strong click as a bolt goes sailing out from the window...a groan from below and behind you denotes the bolt found it's mark. Your smile is short lived as the archer above you goes sailing out from his window through the 50 feet to the ground a crossbow bolt in his back...already dead before hitting the ground.
I am allowing the climb without a skill check at this point because you'd have to convince me REALLY hard to be in anything but leather armor right now. Late evening/dusk, in the private room of the Prince, it's highly unlikely you'd be carrying around a set of metal armor with you, nor wearing it at a game of chess with the royal family in their private quarters. Both you and the prince at this point are going to be in a full suit of leather, we'll work with the armor class difference in a bit. Another good reason to be heading for the armory.
As your feet touch down you steady the rope for the prince and he half slides, half slips down the rope. A sound to your right (from the doorway to the armory) and two black clothed men with short swords step out into the courtyard looking around at the source of the thud they just heard.
So, combat ensuing. I'd like to test something out a bit. Give me an initiative check, a general description of what you'd like to do, and 5 attack rolls in order. In this particular combat we're going to see if it plays better taking multiple "rounds" at a time or whether we should be looking at single round combat like in a table top game. I'll be looking for some feedback (in the other thread) on how this works out.
Also, Armand being an NPC, give me some direction as to what you're doing and "lead me" on what you'd like Armand to be doing.
Dirk will move toward the attackers and position himself as much as possible to be between them and the Prince. At this point I'm unclear if they have spotted us yet. I'll assume I've had time to draw my weapon and can make the distance to the attackers, unless you decide otherwise.
With his weapon drawn, Dirk springs into action by quickly closing the distance betweem himself and the attackers. He opens with an attack honed by years of practice.
Pathetic opening flourish...
Do you have a character sheet for the Prince? I'm not sure what he's adept at. Is he a fighter? For this round, let's have him use a ranged weapon if he has one.
My apologies on the char sheet, yes I have one for him. He's a fighter, as competent with a blade (ok, mace) as you are. He's not ranged, so he'll likely be moving in to do hand to hand. We'll cover the first several rounds.
Armand: Initiative Roll (1d20=3)
Before you or Armand can even take a step toward the two who have exited the Armory they turn and spot you, draw short swords and leap to the attack.
Rogue #2: Acrobatics Check (1d20+8=12)
One rogue goes into a diving roll trying to get behind Armand for a fast attack. For a moment you are sure Armand's counter to the tumble came just a bit to late, but the tumble started just a little too far back and didn't happen quite quick enough...as the forward roll completes the head of Armand's mace is right there to connect directly with the underside of the attacker's jaw, stopping his acrobatics maneuver cold and slamming the rogue in the face, the crackle of breaking bone clearly audible as the rogue stumbles back a few feet and tries to recover from the blow. Expecting the acrobatics maneuver to be more effective than it was your opportunistic attack at the rogue came way to soon and flew wide.
Rogue #2: Attack Roll (1d20+3=7, 1d6+1=4)
The rogue feebly swipes his sword across to keep Armand back but the blow comes no where near to connecting, the rogue having stumbled back too far and the blade swinging past the Prince's Chest with several inches to spare.
Rogue #1: Attack Roll (1d20+3=15, 1d6=3)
The second rogue comes directly at you, shortsword leading for a piercing attack at your chest. Coming on too fast for you but managing to deflect at least some of the blow you parry his shortsword across from your chest to your side, but the sword draws a small line of blood across your ribs as it slides between your arm and your side, edge cutting through a corner of your heavy leather shirt. 3 Damage
Countering with a straight across cut of your heavy blade, the rogue simply ducks his head, already being partially low and simply ducks under the blade of your sword, the overpowered blow leaving you wide open for a counter strike by the rogue. Critical Fail
Armand: Attack Roll (1d20+4=7, 1d8+2=9)
To your right, Armand strides forward, swiping at the seriously injured rogue with his mace, but the black clad assassin continues to retreat dodging back from the mace and the swing.
Rogue #1: Rogue 1 Attack Rolls (1d20+3=22, 1d6=6, 1d20+3=10, 1d6=3, 1d20+3=22, 1d6=1, 1d20+3=8, 1d6=6)
Rogue #2: Attack Rolls (1d20+3=4, 1d6=3, 1d20+3=6, 1d6=6, 1d20+3=19, 1d6=3, 1d20+3=5, 1d6=3)
Armand: Attack Rolls (1d20+4=20, 1d8+2=6, 1d20+4=10, 1d8+2=4, 1d20+4=8, 1d8+2=4, 1d20+4=22, 1d8+2=3)
Your last strike having been so far off base has put you in a very bad position and your opponent takes full advantage of it, reversing his cut, drawing another line both across your rib and then all the way across your chest, his sharpened sword making quick work of your leather shirt and digging a deep line across your body. 6 Damage. Knowing you're in a horrible position you cut your blade directly down in front of you forcing your assassin opponent to step back and come back in at you. While the attack had no chance of hitting, it did the trick to put you back on even footing.
The second rogue makes another feeble swipe, but likely due to the severe damage to his face his blow comes no where close, but it does leave him open to a devastating overhand chop by Armand that practically flattens his head and almost disintegrates the bones that were already broken. The second rogue crumples to the ground, quite dead.
Your opponent tries the same attack that succeeded the first time, coming straight in with his short sword for another strike at your chest, but this time you better understand his speed and power. You sidestep the thrust and bring your blade around to cut a deep line from his shoulder to his other side (7 Points of Damage) practically severing his arm from his body. You realize you've left yourself open for another strike but realize too that your opponent is finished.
The predicted counter comes and you dodge as best you can, the rogue thrusting his sword behind him knicks your outer thigh (1 Point of Damage)as you come back across with the blade, taking his head clean from his shoulders(15 Points of Damage).
Combat Award: 300 XP
Armand moves up to you relatively unscathed and says "not to worry, healing potions in the armory." You pick up the rope pooled at your feet (your Father dropped the rope just after Armand touched down and he and the King are likely off to save the Princess as best they can) and struggle forward, your wounds bothering you more than a little.
The two of you move the 20 feet down the wall and up to the closed armory door. You know the sounds of your battle must have attracted anyone in the vicinity of the courtyard, and you can hear shouts from around the wall behind you. By the distance of the sounds of the shouting, however, you figure you have a little bit of time before you're spotted.
The fact that the combat ended on the round of your very last roll was NOT intentional or planned, 5 attack rolls was JUST enough for you to finish your opponent...Armand had one roll left (a hit) but didn't need it. I would welcome your commentary and advice in the discussion thread on how you felt that combat worked. Were you not involved enough? Did it make the story flow better? Good, bad, indifferent, let me know and we'll try to tweek it next time. I'll open the discussion in the discussion thread.
recap: I tallied 10 points total damage to Dirk leaving him with 6 points of life.
Though injured and in quite a bit of pain, Dirk quickly checks the corpses to see if they have anything that identifies their affiliation.
After which he will move ahead of the Prince into the armory and check for anything that indicates more enemies might be within.
great... now I roll a 20
Your Life total is correct, you are at 6 points left.
Your cursory inspection of the corpses reveals nothing, no marks, no brands, no tattoos, no items of any personal or identifying nature at all. The only item of note is the weapons they carry...each Short Sword's hilt is capped on the pommel by a black skull head. While this doesn't seem to be the calling card of any group or organization you know of, the fact that both weapons bear the exact same marking, the dress of the two are almost identical, and the distinct lack of anything to identify them (even soldiers for hire often carry personal effects or wear their uniforms in slightly different ways), you suspect this is an organized band of some kind.
Armand: Perception Check (1d20+4=18)
While examining the corpses your keen ears detect a shifting of boxes from across the courtyard and a slight "squeak" similar to something you heard in the hallway above...a heavy crossbow winch...from about 30 yards away from you. You hear no sound coming from inside the Armory. You also note that the dim light pouring out from the cracked open door is not obscured by any shadow.
The prince glances over his shoulder at the spot you heard the squeak from and whispers to you "We need to move NOW."
Bursting into a run the Prince, followed by you, practically burst through the armory door, weapons drawn. Seeing nothing immediate you grab the edge of the door and whip it closed, followed almost immediately by the sound of another heavy bolt slamming into the stone castle wall to the right side of the doorframe, the "squeal" of metal on stone as the metal head slides down the stone wall, and a snap and thunk as the shaft of the bolt breaks off and smacks the doorframe.
You note that unlike the doors on the interior of the castle, this door is made of thicker and heartier wood (almost 3 inches thick) and made of almost a single solid wooden sheet. The door is iron bound around the edges for strength and has several iron bands running across the door against the grain of the wood: reinforcement...this door is definitely meant to hold out against tremendous damage. The locking mechanism not only consists of the standard metal locking bar and bracket fixtures common to the castle's interior doors, but also three inch thick metal rods attached to rings integrated into the door's metal binding. These rods (two at the floor level and one around chest level) are meant to slide into holes in the floor and door frame (almost 2 feet deep at cursory inspection) to further brace the door. It was lucky for the two of you that the two assassins positioned in this room heard you come down off the wall and opened the door or you'd have never gotten in.
Two other doors, of the same quality, construction and defensibility lead out of this room. At 90 degrees to your right as you enter the room is another door, obviously leading again out to the courtyard but to the back of the castle this time (and directly across from the stables). Directly across from you the door obviously leads back into the castle proper.
This particular armory (the castle has several) itself is a large circular room, about 50' in diameter and takes up the bottom floor of the castle's back/right tower. In the guttering light of an oil lantern hung in the center of the room, you can see the features of this well stocked armory. All around the room are stacked weapons, armor and gear of every imaginable shape and size. One area of the room has shields stacked 10 deep and at least that wide set on long pegs hammered into the wall, weapon racks abound in the middle of the room, creating corridors and isles along the middle of this circular room. Almost every imaginable weapon has it's place in some rack here, though the vast majority of weaponry consists of long and short swords. Suits of armor, mostly chain shirts, leggings, and coifs are hung from racks along the wall sides, with a small number of heavier armor suits (for the military officers) including banded and plate armor situated to one side on manikins. Across the room from the armor suits hangs racks of crossbows(both light and heavy) and quivers of bolts, initially intended to be used to defend the castle walls. All of the weapons and armor are well cared for and meticulously cleaned by the pages and squires of the castle.
Finally, a cupboard between the armor and shields barley hangs on the wall and reveals several broken potion vials, their contents dripping down the cubpoard and walls to mix into the dirt of the floor. These were obviously healing potions meant for castle defenders to pick up and carry with them to the walls. Most of the vials have been shattered, along with a good portion of the cupboard shelves as well, by possibly a hammer, or a mace. It looks like you interrupted the work in progress of destroying all of the healing potions in this armory. One shelf, on the bottom, seems relatively intact and holds the few remaining useful healing vials.
"Take whatever you need" says Armand, starting to slip into a well made suit of Banded Armor. "And make sure to pick up a crossbow, we'll likely meet more of those bow wielding bastards before we're out of here."
You have a few rounds here to get ready and prepare. Keep in mind that this "takeover" of the castle is not in any way "complete" at this point. You keep hearing the sounds of battle are all around you, from both inside and outside the castle, as the homeguard rallies and tries to fight off the attackers. As yet, you don't suspect that any of the assassins even realizes who you two are so it's unlikely there is any kind of concerted effort to track you down at this point. That said, the longer you wait the more likely it will be for someone to see you've gone "missing" and put two and two together: more than one assassin saw you go out the window and into the armory.
As we're at a good point here, I'd like to remind you of the goals you've been set: Get out of the Castle, Get to Southport, and get a ship out of Kethlenica (to Landfall if possible). From there find somewhere you can hide out and stay under the radar of this assassin group.
You can now assume that you have all of the stuff as listed on your character sheet. If there's anything else you'd like to pick up that's in the armor or weapons section of the Players Handbook, please let me know. Equipment is more sparse but things you would normally find in an armory, like rope, would also likely be here. Just let me know of anything else you'd like to pick up and I'll let you know whether you'd find it in the room or not. I will disallow any request for plate armor as you don't have the time to put it on at this point, and of all the armor it's been partially damaged...likely sabotaged along with the healing potions. As for the healing potions we will assume you found enough of them to fully heal yourself plus an additional potion for each of you. Note these as "Potions of Light Heal" as the Cure Light Wounds spell (1d8+1 I think).
Let me know of any other preparations you want to make and when you're ready to go we'll move on.
Grunting from pain Dirk bars the door to the armory then nods appreciatively at the Princes offer. Crossing the room and leaning heavily on the counter Dirk sorts through the broken healing potions to find several still in tact. Immediate relief washes through his body as he slams a potion down in a single gulp. Dirk hands one of the two remaining Health Potions to the Prince and stuffs another into his pack.
"Hit me harder than I thought... my armor's a mess."
As the potions continue to work and the wounds heal, Dirk slips out of his blood soaked leather armor. Glancing around he settles on a suit of Banded armor similar to the one the Prince selected.
Picking through the other offerings of the armory Dirk also picks up a Longsword, Heavy Crossbow and 20 bolts.
"Ready when you are my friend. We need to make it to the stables."
Dirk moves to the door leading to the stables and listens for a moment before cracking the door open to peek outside.
If the way appears clear, he'll move with the Prince in the direction of the stables.
Listening at the door out toward the back of the castle you hear nothing from beyond. A slight metal on metal rubbing sound and small "clank" accompany each of the three iron rods as you slowly and quietly (as you can) slide them out of the floor and doorframe holes. The prince, his mace secured on his hip and crossbow in hand (loaded) nods at you as you slowly raise the locking bar and crack open the door.
From without you still hear the sounds of fighting coming from various parts inside the castle but due to the darkness of the night you find it hard to see much in the courtyard, especially from your vantage point peeking out the door. Almost directly across the courtyard from you, about a 30 yard run, looms the largest of of the stables buildings, and the place where you and the Prince have your personal horses. A large, raised, iron gate in the castle's outer perimeter wall stands just down the wall from the fenced horse corral. This gate, wide enough for a horse and tall enough for a horse and rider to pass through with room to spare on each side, leads down along a packed dirt path to the grasslands and farmlands surrounding the Capital City of Kethlenica.
The fact alone that the gate stands open during an attack sends warning bells through your mind, the fact there is no apparent fighting at this gate confirms your suspicions, and the frightened whinny of a horse from within the stable building confirms without a doubt that the gate is guarded, at least from within the stables building. As you open the door farther to see more of the area, the corpse of a homeguard soldier, pinned to the stone wall of the gate by a crossbow bolt gives you little surprise.
Seeing no movement in the dark night in the courtyard you and the prince start out from the armory door across the courtyard at the fastest possible clip without making too much noise.
Suddenly, from above, you hear the call "12'oclock!!" and the click/twang of 4 crossbows all firing simultaneously.
Archers From the Window: Crossbow Shots (1d20-2=13, 1d8=6, 1d20-2=9, 1d8=5, 1d20-2=1, 1d8=3, 1d20-2=14, 1d8=7)
Bolts zip past you in the night, thudding into the ground all around you. Whether the darkness of the night, the dodging path you and the prince are following, or pure luck, none of the bolts even gets close. The squeak of hastily winched crossbows comes down to you as you cross the courtyard at a dead run, the door to the stables, cracked partially open, looms up out of the night ahead of you.
Knowing his choices are few, and that a delay could prove fatal, Dirk leads the Prince, at full speed, toward the stable door. Wasting no time Dirk shoulders open the door, with his Elven blade drawn, and quickly scans the interior. Fully expecting resistance, Dirk hopes the guards he expects to find inside are surprised by his (and the Princes) sudden appearance.
If we get a surprise round, use the following attack roll, if not use if for my first attack - assuming there are actually guards inside :)
The padding under your shoulder armor accepts most of the impact as you dip your shoulder and practically knock the door off it's hinges as you barrel through. Inside the stables is a scene that could only be described as coming from a nightmare, a scene you can only imagine would come from the lowest depths of the abyss.
You are unsure about much of the detail due to the pure adrenaline rush and ferocity of your attack on the small group of assassins in the stables, and only in your later years, in some of your worst nightmares, will you ever recall the scene completely, your mind blocking out much of the gruesomeness of the scene around you. Blood, LOTS of blood, covers the floors and the straw laying upon it, stable walls, and even the ceiling to your left. Pools of it seep out from under some of the stall doors, coagulating on the floor in crimson puddles. Screams of terror assault your senses, but not those of people, those of very large animals. High pitched shrieks from some of the stalls beyond the main corridor you are standing in, wild knocking and banging as of horses trying to physically break out of their stalls, or bouncing off the walls of their once homes now prisons in pure mindless horror. Up the corridor to your right a black clothed figure standing in the isle pointing a crossbow into a stable. As if in slow motion you watch as his finger contracts on the trigger, you hear the click of the catch releasing, the twang of the metal string as it snaps taught, the thud of the crossbow bolt into a large body and a terrified, pained whinny of a horse, followed by a loud crash as the beast falls against the wooden stable wall, causing the entire structure to shudder and then another loud thump as it's body hits the floor, accompanied by a spray of blood across the walls. More screams and heightened thrashing from the horses in the vicinity, and more coming from farther back in the stables as the next wave of panic breaks over these poor animals.
Two stable boys, just slightly older than half your 18 years of age and a man no older than yourselves lay in pools of their own blood, some in pools of the horses blood as well, strewn about the stables, one older man, the stable's caretaker, is on his knees facing against the far back wall arms limp at his side with 2 crossbow bolts completely through his body, both at stomach level, holding his corpse pinned to the wall...he was obviously killed execution style and by the placement of the bolts it was a long and agonizing death.
"By the GODS!" comes the voice of Armand from behind you as he too bursts through the doorway and takes in the scene around him.
Neither of you have more than a split second to take notice of the horrors in this room as the other occupants of the stable become your focus.
In the center of the middle isle, about 20 feet from where you have entered is a black clad and cloaked rogue wielding a longsword, he is turned 90 degrees away from you and it looks like he was in the process of giving orders when you burst in. Behind him and slightly to his right, another 50 feet back at the end of the isle and the beginning of a "T" intersection is the rogue holding the now empty crossbow.
Rogue Captain to Hit: 16, Flat footed this round, To hit 13
Rogue To Hit: 14
Armand: Armand Attacks Rogue 1 (1d20+4=20, 1d8=8)
Crying out in rage at the atrocity committed, Armand snaps out of his shock at the scene and raises his crossbow, firing the weapon at the rogue at the far end of the isle. The bolt SLAMS into his side, piercing his ribcage but seemingly falling short of his heart since the man remains standing. The rogue drops his crossbow, whether out of pain or necessity, and draws a short sword. Armand, still on the move, drops his crossbow, pulls out his mace and moves up to engage.
Armand is about 30 feet back from the Rogue at the far end of the isle.
Dirk, your attack. Use the roll and damage in your last post. Note this round, due to the unexpected fury and speed of your entry, the Rogue Captain is flat footed, his to hit, for this round, is 13. (the 11 points won't kill him).
With adrenaline coursing through his veins Dirk hardly notices the gruesome scene around him and focuses instead on the current threat - one of the apparent leaders of the black-clad rogues.
Mounting fury lends Dirk strength as he swings his two-handed sword in a large arc and connects solidly with the man shouting orders.
The assassin captain, caught unprepared by your fury, takes a cut from the cheek down to the left breast, barely missing the jugular vein in his neck, and brings his longsword up to parry, stopping your blade from doing too much damage.
The rogue assassin, having drawn his short sword, moves up to Armand and aims a quick slice at his head.
Rogue1: Attack Roll (1d20+2=16, 1d6=3)
Armand, deftly raising his shield, catches the sword well before the strike lands and pushes up and out, pulling the rogue's arm up and away from his now vulnerable body.
Meanwhile the rogue captain pulls a short sword from a scabbard at his belt, hidden behind his cloak, and attempts to strike.
Rogue Captain: To hit Rolls - Dual Wield (1d20+1=5, 1d20+1=13)
Unfortunately the late parry he made has put the captain well out of attack position. He fumbles the longsword back down and across, managing only to disengage his sword form yours, while his short sword comes in toward your side, the oddly angled blow glancing easily off your thick armor.
The hurt rogue, sensing he's in trouble, tries to throw himself backward, disengaging his blade from the shield and getting back into position, the maneuver almost worked. Twisting right to disengage, the rogue dodges the main force of Armand's mace but gets clipped on the left shoulder on it's way across. Already off balance from the disengaging maneuver and with the unaccounted for force of the mace continuing him in his twist, the rogue overbalances and falls to the bloody straw on the floor, landing heavily on his right side...driving the already stuck crossbow bolt farther through his ribs and into his heart. The rogue twitches once and doesn't move again.
From around the corner to both the left and right Armand sees two more rogues emerging from horse stalls farther down the T corridor.
"DIRK! TWO MORE!" Armand calls as he ducks back around the T intersection, waiting for the rogues to come into view.
Rogue 2 and Rogue 3: Initiative (1d20+2=3, 1d20+2=16)
* Dirk: 23
Rogue 3 (Right Side): 16
Rogue Captain: 9
Rogue 2 (Left Side): 3
Dirk, It's your Turn. Note, I'm back at the house now so I should have time for a couple more turns this evening, whatever you can get to.
Dirk launchea another powerful but hastily aimed blow with his two-handed sword that flies wide!
... then carefully moves a step closer to the Prince.
Dirk will take a 5ft step toward the Prince (avoiding an opportunity of attack). He'll attempt to get as close to the prince as possible each round to lend help as soon as he is free from his current opponent.
Dirk shuffles off to his right and starts maneuvering around the Rogue Leader, slowly backing toward the cross hallway and closing the distance between him and Armand. You reach close to the Middle of the hallway width wise and you're still about 25 feet from Armand and the cross hallway length wise.
Rogue #3: Attack/Damage Roll (1d20+2=8, 1d8=6)
Meanwhile the rogue coming from the hallway on the right breaks into a short run after seeing his comrade fall and Armand duck back around the corner. He comes to a skidding halt, attempting to drop to his knee and firing at the now in range and visible Armand, but the wet and bloody straw causes his stabilizing leg to go out from under him and the shot goes wide into the rafters. Dropping into a roll from the skid the Rogue rolls into one of the stables and secures himself behind the wall, you catch the by now VERY familiar squeak of a heavy crossbow winch. Loading the crossbow is a full round action, Rogue #3 will get to attack 2 rounds from now if he continues to try to load his crossbow.
Rogue Captain: To hit rolls. (1d20+1=9, 1d20+1=14)
The Rogue Captain, having felt the sting of your blade, and knowing your prowess cautiously approaches and strikes, a right to left chop at your neck and a thrust at your abdomen. Trusting in your armor and the shortness of the offhand blade you duck backwards and the longsword whistles harmlessly over your head. You feel a thump against your abdomen but know by the feel that it didn't have enough power to penetrate.
Rogue #2: Acrobatics Roll (1d20=15)
As you duck back to allow the longsword to miss, out of the corner of your eye to your now right and behind you see another black clad man (you assume one of the two Armand called about) give a great aerial flip and twist landing in a crouched position facing exactly 180 degrees from the direction of his movement, loaded crossbow pointing directly at Armand's position.
Rogue #2: Attack roll (1d20+2=6, 1d8=5)
However, Armand is not without protection and not caught offguard. The crossbow bolt flies square at Armand's head but with a resounding screech of metal on metal ricochets off Armand's angled shield to thunk, quivering, into an overhead rafter. Dropping the crossbow and drawing a shortsword, the rogue moves up to engage.
Armand: Attack Roll (1d20+4=8, 1d8+2=8)
Staggering back from the almost point blank force of the crossbow bolt off the shield Armand is forced slightly off balance and his mace swing flies wide of the mark.
Dirk, you're up. I think this is working much better.
In a move borne of desperation Dirk feints a lunge under the right arm of the Rogue Captain then follows with a powerful backward slash that tears the Rogues chest asunder.
If that finishes the Captain, Dirk will move to intercept the xbow weilding rogue - the xbow rogue will have penalties because Armand is currently engaged, but Dirks intention is to do what he can to distract the shooter.
Your blade penetrates armor, skin and bone, cutting through the light armor of the rogue captain like it wasn't there and then cutting deeper, your blade ending it's slash between the rogue captain's ribs before you mercilessly wrench it free. The assassin falls face first into a pool of blood, his, a stable boy's, and a horses...a fitting end to such an evil man.
Catching your breath you look around. You are standing about 20 feet from the cross hall to the T, down the left branch about 50' down from the left side of the intersection you see the place where the rogue slipped, went down, and then rolled into the stable across the hallway. WIth two of the four down, Armand, unhurt and with a slight advantage against his opponent, fully engaged and in control. You turn your attention to the man hidden within the stable, obviously winching up his crossbow, readying to take another pot shot at Armand, his comrade be damned.
You move at 20' per round and you still have your move action this turn. You can take a move action this turn, and a full move action across corners next turn to get you within range of the assassin. Your other option would be to retrieve the crossbow on the floor near you and load it: you would be able to attack the same round as the crossbowman (after he does), but he's going to get a shot off...and even then he'll be in partal cover (-4 to attack roll). I'll leave it to your option.
The continuing sounds of the heavy crossbow winch assault you from the stable down the row where the third rogue is hiding, you realize he's got to be almost ready, and even as you listen the sounds of the winch stop.
The rogue captain lays in a pool of blood, unmoving and no longer part of this fight.
Rogue 2: Attack roll. (1d20+3=4, 1d6=1) (Critical Failure)
Seeing his leader down, and knowing he's going to be just as likely hit by the incoming crossbow bolt as his opponent, the rogue engaged with Armand panics, making a wild slash with his short sword and getting it lodged in the wooden beam to the left of Armand. Frantically trying to recover the rogue steps back from his lodged weapon, trying to throw his weight into recovering it, leaving pretty much his entire body open to an attack.
Armand: Attack/Damage (1d20+4=19, 1d8=6)
Armand steps in and swings his mace, crushing the rogue's right arm, the sound of bone crunching. The weight of the swing and the weight of the rogue being hit by it combine to wrench the sword free and pushes the rogue back several feet.
Your move Dirk. You have 3 options at this point, you can move up to attack the rogue under cover, you can move over to attack the badly wounded but still fighting rogue on Armand, or you can pick up a crossbow and start loading, giving you an attack at the end of next round on either of the two rogues, one of which will have partial cover and the other of which is engaged
For this round please give me 2 attack and damage rolls, there may be a use for them.
Seeing that Armand has his situation largely in control Dirk moves toward the sound of the crossbow.
Dirk will use all movement turns to move toward the rogue in the stall with the xbow. If possible he'll move in a fashion that keeps himself hidden until the last second when he'll leap into the stall - sword first.
sheesh... epic rolling.
As you move up to the stable wall, preparing to duck around the corner you see the rogue pop over the top of the stall wall, loaded crossbow at the ready. A look of surprise and horror crosses his face as he tries to fire around you, already committed to the action, he ducks to the left and tries to fire around you.
Rogue3: Attack/Damage (1d20-6=7, 1d8=6) <Note: Should have been -3, not -6 but neither attack would have hit>
The bolt comes no where near to Armand's position flying wide and to the left to thud into a stable wall somewhere farther down the right corridor.
Knowing an opportunity when you see one, you take a swipe at the rogue while he's busy firing, but the rogue ducks back down behind the wall before your mace can reach, the crossbow clatters to the floor and metal on wood sounds as the rogue draws what you assume to be a short sword, a by now very familiar sight to you.
Seeing no more enemies in the vicinity you heft your sword and shift left and around the wall, coming in hard at the rogue, or at the position you THOUGHT the rogue would be...your attack meeting only air as you spin through your routine. Your opponent took a couple quick steps back after drawing his sword and now stands just back from you, sword in attack position.
Over in the main hallway, the rogue flips his now freed short sword to his offhand, his right arm being limp and mostly useless from the blow last round and comes in at Armand with a low thrust, trying to pin Armand against the wall. Over and down in a side swipe/arc comes Armand's mace, cleanly picking off the thrust and turning it wide.
Armand's counter, a metal plated kneepad to the underside of the jaw violently snaps the Rogue's head up and back, a resounding "crack" signaling that he will give Armand and Kethlenica no more trouble. The rogue goes down in a heap on a pile of straw and doesn't move. A hesitance in movement and then the sound of metal plated footfalls heading your way, Armand is incoming to your position.
Armand is moving over to your position at this point, it'll take him a full round to get there and get engaged with the rogue.
At this point it's you and Armand against one unhurt rogue.
Wasting no time, Dirk takes a powerful round house swing at the assassin.
Catching movement out of the corner of your eye to the left, you let your failed swing at nothing carry you into a clockwise spin, blade going down and across and then back up to the ready. You spin 3/4 of a full turn and use a right to left chop to halt your movement and bring you square with the assassin, the chop coming down just inside the rogue's guard and cleaving him through the collarbone. The force of the blow throws the rogue back against the far wall where his head slams into the wooden boards of the stable wall. The rogue slumps to the ground unmoving. You can't tell if he's dead or simply unconscious.
Combat Experience: 500 xp for killing the captain and the 3 rogue guards.
Moments later Armand spins into the stall, mace at the ready. He takes in the view, nods approvingly and says "Shouts coming from outside, I suspect we don't have a whole lot of time here." He hands you your crossbow and starts out of the stall.
The T corridor turns out to be a left/right hallway with several more branches down off of the top Think like TTTTTTT where the top is all connected.. You exit the stall and sprint down the right hand corridor to the end of the row and turn down the hallway. Your spirits raise as you realize the Rogue assassins had not made it this far down the stables yet and the horses in this section of the Stables, including yours and the Prince's in stalls right next to each other, are in fairly good shape. As you pass by the corner of the main hall you notice a door to the outside stands partially open, into the outdoor corral used for running and breaking new horses. The second rogue must have been stationed here with a crossbow, picking off soldiers and anyone attempting to go through the back gate out of the castle.
Entering the stables you start saddling and prepping your horses. As you two are prepping your horses for a quick escape the Prince starts explaining the route you'll take.
"Out the stable door and out the corral we'll make a short run to the back gate then out through there around the back side of the city of Kethlenica. That should put us out into the open farming lands with a direct run of about 20 miles to Southport. We'll know as we get closer whether Southport has been invaded by a larger force or if this assassination attempt is limited to just my Father and I."
Any last minute preparations you or Armand should do before we get started on the end of the Prelude? There are a couple more events to get through but the last of the combat itself has been seen at this point. We're going to move through the rest of this story pretty quickly to get the rest of the campaign moving. Consider the next parts of this "historical" and mostly for your reading edification, I'll be taking control of your character's actions for the rest of the short bit left of the prelude.
All of Dirks training could not prepare him for the reality of taking a human life. The events of the last hour come crashing down on him mentally. Suppressing the emotions swirling within himself, but determined to come to terms with his chosen profession, he nods at his life long friend and simply says, "Lead on".
The sounds of battle and shouting from the courtyard outside get louder as more of the home guard push back against the Assassin band. You and the Prince rush as quickly as you can to get your horses saddled and prepped for the 30 mile run to Southport.
The unthinking work comes naturally to you, having performed these tasks hundreds of times through your childhood and early adulthood. As usual, you mind wanders to more important things, letting your hands and body go through the motions they know by heart. A whirl of questions assaults you: Why would a band of assassins want to take out the Royal house of Kethlenica? To most of Norwold this is a rich but somewhat inconsequential Kingdom. Why would so many assassins take part in an all out attack on the kingdom? This is such a different tactic from any other assassin band you have ever encountered, while stealth and surprise were surely a part of the initial opening volleys of the attack, the battle in and around the castle seems to be continuing, obviously to great cost if the four in the stables are of any indication. What's happened to the King, your family and the Prince's?
Saddled and ready to run, you and Armand start to mount the horses when a crash of the door from back down the main hallway indicates that you're no longer alone in the Stables.
"Ride!" yells Armand and he leads the charge out of the stalls and up the hall to the door to the outside.
The click of crossbows and the whistle of bolts lead you out of the stables, through the corral, over the short fence and down the short distance to the gate out of the castle wall. Shouts of frustration and cries of "It's them! It's THEM!" come from the door out of the stables as more crossbow bolts whiz through the air, thumping against the castle walls and into the dirt around you.
With a whoop and a yell you take your place ahead of Armand and charge through the back exit out through the castle's curtain wall and off into the Night, the sound of Armand's horse pounding just behind you.
Twang, Twang, Twang, Twang. The sound of crossbows from the walls shooting down at you are almost continuous, as is the sound of the thud of bolts thudding into trees or dirt or rocks around you. A horn, a single blast howling through the night, is the last sound you hear from the Kethlenican castle as you ride off into the night.
Here ends the prelude to the campaign Rise of a Regent.
As I start the campaign, it makes sense for me to post some general information about Kethlenica, the surrounding Kethlenican Region, and the greater landmass of Norwold.
The link above will take you to a VERY generically built web page with links (no complaints as to it's crappyness, I do what I can with the time I have. :) ). More links may be added as time goes on in the campaign and will be the primary method for obtaining PC "Handouts". Right now, the link contains 3 items.
First: An area map of Kethlenica
Second: An area map of the Greater Norwold Area (this one is large).
Third: A "short" (or not so much) history and general description of Kethlenica and it's "architecture".
The start of the player campaign occurs on the greater Norwold Map in the lower left hand area at the "1" Marking (Might be tough to see). In the Mid/Right of the map, just above the capital city of Alpha, you will find a "2" Marking, which is the Kingdom of Kethlenica.
Please keep in mind that at the start of the campaign, none of you know or know of each other, there are no "linked" histories. Please ensure your Role play takes this into account.
If you have any questions regarding the information linked at the above link, please post back to the DISCUSSION boards and ask, or feel free to shoot me an e-mail if the question is of a "personal history" nature.
First turn is being generated and created now and hopefully will be up late tonight/early tomorrow.
While each of you is traveling in separately and at separate times your greeting is about the same. The description following applies to each of your separate entries into Kiren's Keep
After many miles of travel, you and your horse exhausted by the trek over the mountain trails and the hills surrounding the area, you reach the outlands of Kiren's Keep. This "fort" is not at all what you pictured. Less an outlaying military base and more a walled village or almost town, Kiren's Keep is nestled in a many mile wide valley between two mountain ranges. Built on some of the few plains in the area, Kiren's keep seems to be in some of the more hospitable area within this mountain gorge. Yet, obviously, protection was a major concern in the building of this keep. Set back against a huge, almost mountainous, hill, it's slope steep enough that only climbers with the proper equipment would even dare to attempt it's assent or descent, the keep seems well protected from behind. Watch towers and what look to be encampments are cut into this hillside further protecting the keep and allowing the inhabitants to see many miles across the flat plains of the gorge to the mountains beyond.
Kiren's Keep itself is surrounded by a large curtain wall enclosing a massive area of several thousands of square feet. Poking up over the 20' high curtain wall you see the towers of a castle set just back and to the center of the area. The roofs of several other buildings just barely show from a distance while moving up and down the hills in the area, some of which allow you to see over the curtain wall and into the keep area itself. Within the keep, even from the distance of several miles out, you see that things are not calm and quiet. Men, carts, wood, ore, and all sorts of things are moving into and out of the keep walls, and watch fires are set day in and day out from the towers and encampments along the hill "wall" behind the Keep.
As you get closer to the castle you can't help but notice the sheer number of sentries on the walls and in the wall watch towers, you also notice, as you approach, several flashes from the hillside behind the castle, obviously signaling your incoming presence. You are surprised that from that distance up and back anyone would notice a single rider on a single horse, even if you're not taking pains to hide yourself and moving straight down the "road" to the castle. As you move into the surrounding lands you notice that most of the houses on the outlaying lands have been boarded up, the few you pass close enough to look into look very much abandoned and cleaned out. A steady stream of people, most older or younger or women, seem to be entering in through the Keep's main gate. Most of what is passing out of the Keep are lightly armored but heavily armed horsed riders, heading off down the road or into the rougher lands to the north and west of Kiren's Keep.
Something is obviously up in this vicinity, and by the looks of it, nothing good. You wonder just how urgent the notices you've seen calling for men strong of arm and of heart really are. Stopping one of the peasants along the road as you make your way to the outer wall of the keep confirms your fears. A large band of orcs are holed up in the Mountains to the north and west of Kiren's Keep, their encampment several hundred strong. By all reports they've built siege weapons which they are getting ready to move down the Duke's road toward Kiren's Keep (and to Penhaligon beyond that, the closest of many small towns dotting the area around and through the mountainous region). Being the only military structure in the region, Kiren's keep is the obvious first target, it's fall allowing the orcs a base from which to raid the smaller settlements and larger towns of the vicinity.
As you approach the main gate you are stopped by several guards who detach themselves from the wall and order you both to stop and to dismount your horse. Obviously suspicious of you and your motives they ask several questions about why you are coming to Kiren's Keep.
Please do me the honor of having your character answer the questions of "Who are you?" and "Why have you come to Kiren's Keep?" Please put your answers in spoiler text, and as always, do not read other's spoiler answers. I promise we'll get out of "spoilerville" very shortly.
Selena was tired, and extremely uncomfortable. She was not used to riding a horse at all, even a gentle one like Graywind. They had become friends immediately though, which was a good thing.
The sight of the keep was alarming to her. She recognized it immediately as the one from her dreams, and her eyes lit with wonder. She made her way to the gate.
"Who are you? State your business." Selena could tell that the men were serious, and from the military protocol that she had witnessed on the road, it seemed they were expecting an attack at almost any time.
"Good Sirs, My name is Selena Devanholme. And as to what I am doing here, that is a question even I don't have an understandable answer to. But what I see when I look around is a people in desperation. I am a skilled healer and astrologer, an interpreter of dreams. I believe my skills might be of help if a battle is forthcoming."
Selena waits as the guards look her over.
"If I am acceptable, can you possibly tell me where I can find food and a decent bed, and perhaps some stabling for a night or two?"
Though the ride was long, Lasciel stuck to hard formed habits, keeping to less traveled roads when possible and generally avoiding people. This morning as she'd sighted the keep from a hilltop, she'd changed from her travel clothes to her "working" leathers, the oiled leather armor a comfortable second skin of protection.
As she approached the gates she took in the chaos. 'Something big is going down here. It practically stinks of panic.'
"You! Dismount at once! Who are you? Why are you here?", the guard's orders came barked with practiced hostility.
'These guys mean business'she thought to herself, observng their stances and readied weapons,'They could go off any second.'
Reigning her horse up a good 15ft from the nearest guard, she dismoutned in a swift, fluid motion, remarkably soundless, the single loose braid falling in front of her face.
Her right hand reached up to carress the black mare to calm her,......and to be near her stowed crossbow should she need it.
"The name's Lash Silverflame. Word is you put out a call for able bodies and strong arms to help defend this place. Looks like y'all need everyone you can get."
As she spoke she shifted slightly to emphasize the rapier on her hip, the gleaming punching dagger on the other side evicent in the light of the watchfires.
"Or maybe ya'll were just puttin' up posters for fun."
As you guys get your responses posted, I'll be handling you in turn.
The older of the two guards to stop you looks you up and down a second, not with disrespect (quite unlike the younger of the two guards is doing) but more taking a gage of your strength of person.
"Astrologer? Dreams? Lass, what'd'ya thinks is goin' on 'ere? In a coupl'o days this place is goin' be locked down tighter'n my pappy in his grave. We're abou' ta be at war with a bunch 'o damn orcs" the older guardsman says, spitting on the ground in disgust.
"But ya mentioned healin. Yous a healer then...tha's differn't, tha's somethin we're all abou'ta need a lota come 'ere soon enough. Welcome ta Kiren's Keep. Th' 'astle's straight in front a' ya, capt'ins in there, I'm sure 'e'll be wantin to talk to yas soon. Ya's can put up at the chapel, tha's to th' east side o' th' keep. Them's wit' healin abilities all congregaten there. They'll put ya' to work. If I was you though, I'd hop back on that pretty li'l horse a yers and high tail it the hell ou' o' th' region. No disrespect meant ma'm but this ain' abou' ta be a nice place in a couple o' days."
With a shrug and a point at a somewhat largish two story building set back against the side of the keep, a good distance from the walls and thus somewhat more protected from the fighting, the two guards step back to their posts at the gate, the older of which motions you through and the younger of which keeps his eye on you, especially as you pass through the gate.
The younger of the two guards looks you up and down, half admiring your armor and weapons and half trying to look through them.
"Fun? This ain't fun. We're about ta git run o'er by a bunch o' orcs honey. I know fun when I see it" (again, a look you've seen many times on the streets of Landfall) "and this ain't it. And that li'l poker ya got there's nice and pretty an' all, we'll let ya' know if we need a rat stabbed...or some dishes washed or some cloths cleaned. Till then I suggest ya scuttle that pretty ass o' yurs out o' the area and let the men get to th' real fight'n...an' die'n."
An older man, somewhere in his late forties comes fast stepping from over at the wall. The man is wearing a couple of buttons on the lapel of his uniform, marking him as an officer of some type. He walks up to the two guards accosting you, ignoring the older one, and nods differentially to you, almost as an apology.
"You got horse manurer for brains Franks?"
Blanching almost sheet white, the rude younger solder stammers "N..n...no SIR!" You can't help but notice a slight grin on the face of the older gate guard.
"The what in the name of the 666 layers of the abyss are you doing? An obviously capable, young woman shows up here, with her own weapons and her own armor, offering us her help and you're going to run her out because she ain't got..." the officer stops a second somewhat embarased. "Excuse me ma'm."
Addressing the younger solder again the officer says "When I'm on the field of battle and an Orc is baring down on me ready to kill me, and this woman runs him through, I'm going to say thanks, as will my wife and my kid. You think we've got enough men here that we can't use another good hand with a blade? Ya' damn moron. Second one today you tried to run away...you got a death wish? Ok, wish granted. Report to Sergent Jacobs at the Keep for Scouting duty...tell him you're to be sent out to the observation post TONIGHT. DISMISSED!"
If possible the younger soldier turns an even lighter shade of white and looks almost as if he's going to pass out. Visibly trembling, the soldier salutes his superior and slowly moves off through the gate and out toward the keep. The older gate guard moves back to his post at the castle gate and another soldier from around the wall moves up to take the place of the dismissed younger man.
"Don't worry about him" the officer says, addressing you. "Jacobs would NEVER send anyone that inexperienced, or frankly that STUPID, out on a mission like that." grinning a bit wider the officer says "He's more likely to be cleaning out the latrines than mounting a horse to ride off into the dark night."
Looking you over a second you hear the officer muttering "Light weapons...light armor...graceful movements..." the officer nods slightly. "So you're here responding to the call for soldiers 'ey. I think we've got a use for you, if you're willing. Go ahead and hole up at the goblin, north wall, you'll find a stables for your horse in the same area. Can't offer you free room and board, but their prices are the best you'll find around." Grinning at you at the obvious joke (you suspect that's the only Inn in the general vicinity of the keep for many miles). "I'll pass th' word to the captain, he'll be wantin to talk to you soon enough. Till then, feel free to make use of whatever you can find, you got free reign of the grounds. Just...no funny stuff...we're not going to take well to any quick hands or glib tongues."
Nodding at you once again, the officer moves off back to the gate area, and you are free to pass through.
Selena gratefully acknowledged the two guards, then rode past them, making her way to the chapel. She was almost too tired. It had been a long and difficult journey, and her joints were not at all used to riding for such long periods of time.
"Can you tell me who's in charge here? I was told I could stay here by the guards at the gate."
Calmly dismounting, Mird pets his horse soothingly and whispers a soft coo that relaxes the tired horse slightly. With a slight grin, Mird approaches the guard, pushing his hood back slightly and leaving his hands open at his side as non-threateningly as possible. I heard you fellas where in need of help 'round here; and from what I can tell, you don't have a minute to spare. Please...direct me to someone I can discuss this business with, I'd like to offer both my bow and blade to your cause...for the right price, of course."
He stops in front of the Guards, and doffing his large Floppy hat offers a flourishing bow.
"Greetings my hardworking fellows", he intones with a smile. "I'm known throughout the land as Fyird Olaafson, master entertainer, and historian". "I'm sure you've heard of me"?
"Why isn't it obvious why I'm here"? "Not only must someone observe and record the daring deeds, and exciting adventures that such brave souls as yourself will be performing in the coming days, but I can also serve to bolster the spirits of those fatigued by battle, and suffering from the loss of those close to them".
"And hopefully, I can be there to help raise the cry of battle inspiring you hero's to even greater heights"!
Fyird then gestures at the handle of his battleaxe, and the stock of his crossbow protruding from his packsaddle..."And of course should I have need to swing a weapon in conflict, I am not altogether helpless"...
"Now if you could direct me to the finest food, and softest bed in town, I would owe you a favor". With that Fyird places his hat back on his head, and assumes a waiting position.
Grinning the the officer Lasciel takes her horse's reigns in hand.
"Thanks, sir." she gives him a nod at once brief and conveying respect. Here was a man deserving of it.
Making her way past the guards she headed in the direction indicated observing her surroundings as she did.
The older of the two guards starts chuckling at your response.
"At leas' ye're hones' like. Yea, we cans use ye're 'sperience if ye're any good." Looking you over the older guard nods his head appreciatively. "Yous got th' look abou'ya liken ye've seen a few battles o' ye're own. An' an outdoor's man if'n I' e'er seen one. Capt'n's got immediate need fer'ya. Report directly to th' castle and ask fer Garelson. Tell em' tha' asks ye' ye're there fer scoutin'. If'n ye're really interes'in in help'n tha' is."
Gate Guards: Perception Checks (1d20=1, 1d20=14) (DC=15)
The older guard, still chuckling at your blunt comment about payment, with obvious appreciation for someone willing to call it like he sees it, simply turns around and walks back to the gate. The second guard, a younger guard, seems about ready to ask you a question when he just shakes his head and and walks back to the gate, muttering to himself. Both guards motion you and your horse through, giving you free run of the grounds.
XP Award: 100 xp points for getting through the gate without giving your name or any identifying information about your goal at the keep.
With your character please note whether your standard dress includes or doesn't include your mask. Then during the campaign please note if/when you take the mask off.
The younger guard looks quite pleased with himself at the terms "hardworking", "brave", and "heroes". The older guard takes one look at him and smacks the younger guard upside the back of the head with the butt of his polearm. You hear the words "stupid kid" mutterd from the older guard as he says:
"No we ain' 'ere'in of ye, no' much time these days fer much o' th' stories, and not many o' ye' come out this far int'a th' moun'ns. An' their ain' much fine food o' even warm bed's ou' ere. Ye'wan'in to helps 'ere you best be sing'n less and swing'n more. Aye, there'll be a need to swing 'ne o' them fancy weapon's o' yurs, pro'bly mor'n ye're wan'in." The old soldier stops a minute and then shakes his head and says "Bah, wel'ome to Kiren's 'eep and be gla' ta sees ya'. We kin use all the help we kin git. And may'a tha' lyre o' yer's may come in 'andy af'er all. Hea' down t' th' 'oblin on th' north wall, they'll probably be 'appy t' see's ya."
Pointing at a building up against the north wall of the keep the guard motions you and your horse through the gate. "Th' stables is on ye're ri' from th' 'oblin."
With that, the two gate guards, the younger guard looking like he's already had a hell of a day, walk back to their posts along the gate.
XP Award: 50 xp For getting through the gate without stating any of your real reason for being there.
The older guard gives the yonger guard a look and a grin then turns to you and says: "Well mas'er Thantos Mortimir, mighty pro' are we ta' meet yer' high and mightyness. Shall we jus' 'ern our wea'ons o'er to yer now or ye wan' tha we should bow firs'?"
With that both guards burst out in laughter, obviously at your expense, when the older guard shakes his head and pats the air in front of him at you signaling you not to get offended. "We don' git many o' ye finger twiddlers ou' 'ere, but be sure'n we kin use on' or two'o ye. No'much for ye' roun' these parts fer quarters. Th' 'oblin's th' only inn in th' place and it's li'ly a bit noisy fer' on' o' yer types. Barracks ain' gon' work, try th' 'astle. Ask'em if yer kin 'hole up in th' library, 'at should give ye' the peace ye' needs."
With that the gate guards take a step back and motion you through.
At this point everyone (except Dirk) is through the gate and we should be out of dangerous waters with histories. Lets go ahead and switch to regular in game and OOC text at this point. I caution everyone to keep in mind that you are all seperated around the keep and have NO idea who each other is or that anyone new has come in, so each conversation we run should be kept out of each other's game information for the moment. I also note that unlike many other campaigns you migth have played in, there is no need for any of you to "concoct" a reason to meet up with each other, the story will take care of that at the appropriate time. If you happen to cross each other's paths from here out, that's great, otherwise if not, no big issues.
So all of you now have the run of the keep, some of you have been given some direction, some will be given some in the next turn or two and others will have some "free reign" for a couple turns. Let me know how you guys want to contduct yourselves and what you'd like to do with your "free time" given what you know.
IMPORTANT!!!!! If you are going to make any moves on anything or refer to anything history based PLEASE include those in spoiler text NOT in game text or OOC.
Dirk, please still post your first turn in Spoiler text.
The grounds look even bigger from inside than out. Whereas outside the distance between the castle walls and what you later learn to be called "dead man's hill" looks distorted due to the perspective, from the inside, without the obstructing view of the building tops or the curtain wall, the area opens up into a rather large expanse of land. Certiainly a full half mile ahead of you from the gate is the castle, with about half that much from the castle to the hillside that forms the back wall of this "Keep", and looking to your left and your right you guess at least a mile between the walls. This is much more than a keep, it's at least a small town, if not a major commerse hub for the region.
This day, the grounds between the walls and the castle are bustling with activity, soldiers marching and training, construction of wooden barracades and even some seige breaking equipment (catapults, balista, etc.), and even some women and childeren hauling water from wells to various tent camps scattered through the grounds. Looking around, however you take back your last assessment...not scattered...far from it. While the tent camps aren't in neat orderly rows there is a symetry to them, with wide aveneues betweeen the various tent camps and unrestricted access to the various buildings around the center and sides of the keep walls. It looks like the people in these camps have either done this many times before or have been trained on where to be and how to act. Each tent camp is a pinacle of efficiency, food is distributed in set amounts, lines form and are quickly and efficently processed, most of the people in the tent camps are women and childeren but even they seem to be busy, bustling from one task to the next. Several soldiers are posted at each camp, obviously to keep the peace and ensure the protection of the families left there. Looking closer, you notice everything about these tent camps is ephemeral, almost as if they're built to be broken down and moved or evacuated at a moment's notice. As you walk farther through the grounds heading toward your destination you notice one mostly empty tent encampment doing exactly this...being broken down at an incredibly rapid rate. A host of men, women and childeren are busily folding, stacking, loading and moving bits and pieces of this particular camp. Within minutes the almost fully setup encampment is neetly stacked on rolling carts in neet lines. A whilstle blows from somewhere nearby and the group immediately jumps into action unstacking and going about the process of re-setting up the encampment with the same base efficiency as it was broken down. Shaking your head in amazement moving off toward your goal, you realize with a stunning realization that what you just witnessed was a training exercise for the camp inhabitants on the best way to both break down and setup a tent encampment quickly so in the case of an emergency (which to you seems all to readily apparent is comming in the very near future) the camp can be broken down or set up to get out of harms way.
Continuing toward your goal, you notice several stalls of all sorts mostly side by side along the walls of the keep: a blacksmithery, a tailoring shop, stores and stalls sellng food and drink, and a host of other things line the walls. Again, what's spectacular about this is that it looks like each of these setups is again, transitory. The contents of the stalls all look like they could be broken down and moved at a moment's notice. Indeed, almost everything but the forges and other immovable objects necessary for the trades look like they have all be recently moved and re-placed. Almost everything you'd need to survive, if maybe not live a good/rich life, seems to be available here in Kiren's Keep.
The people of the town are friendly enough to you as you pass by, nodding at you, greeting you with a "G'Day", but rarely stopping to talk, either to you or to one another, having other places to go or be. The tent camps you pass by, on the other hand, seem a bit more lively, with people resting or talking with each other, throwing bones or playing other games of chance, or otherwise simply relaxing and carrying on about their day. Children are playing out and around the area with other children, and a host of people seem to simply be migrating back and forth between tent camps, talking with their neighbors.
Walking your horse the half mile to the castle and then around to it's south side where the chapel sits, you note that it is one of the few stone buildings in the keep. As you approach a man with a cut hand wrapped in a white cloth enters the chapel ahead of you.
As you enter the chapel yourself and ask for the person in charge, an older woman approaches you from out of a side room in the chapel, wearing a simple dress and a bloodstained apron. She has a bit of a hard look about her, and the years have not been kind, but the crinkle lines around her eyes and mouth denote a more happy countenance than the years have worn on her face. "Th' Name's Marrietta, 'Bloody Mary' they call me for the work I do 'ere. Who might you be and why would those two jokers at the gates send ye down here? You don' happen to be a healer do ye?"
As you move through the tent encampments heading for the Tavern known to the locals as "The Goblin" you see many of the soldiers looking up at you and nodding, or starting animated conversations as you pass. You manage to catch some snipits of the various conversations you are hearing as you pass by "...yea, and more her like them came through this morning..." "...supposedly she's a healer..." "...playing at the goblin tonight, should be good..." and other snippets of conversation indicating that you aren't the only adventurer to have come through the gates today.
As you get close to the goblin, two men dressed in the standard uniform of the Kiren's Keep soldiery step out from the building and move toward you.
"Lash?" one of them, a tall, thin man with a mustache and scraggly chin asks as you approach.