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Ryuko's Forging of a Kingdom (Inactive)

Game Master Ryuko

Watch five intrepid adventurers bring the whole of the Stolen Lands to civility.

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OK about the horse feed, I don't want to play Adventures in Logistics either. Some play it up because it would be more the reason for good land to go unsettled than monsters. Yes it's harder to feed an army, most of the time, than to use one. Even small units like our team.

Campfire conversation:

"My companions have raised many points to ponder Linier, but I have one very narrow point to make. You seem to think, from what you said, that if any lord is bad all lords must be. That is not so, but more importantly, what seems to underlie what you say is the grave error of wanting perfection. That is that some person, some society, some realm, some type of action, government, indeed anything, has any flaws it it a failure. If you expect perfect, resign yourself to a lifetime of disappointment." Anton quirks an eyebrow at those who shake their head. "Oh that's not what you meant? I do not believe you. It was so indeed because that's the only way you could compare the depredations of bandits to the bulk of those who rule, many with honor. Even my mother, with all her cruelty, would be a better lord, she's better trained and comes from a tradition of noble obligations that she does live by. But judge, not by the hopes and more importantly the deeds, of dutiful people and only by their many weaknesses and failures, ignore the much greater failures of lesser would-be lordlings, and now all people are bad and worthless. Congratulations, you can feel morally superior to everybody. But the fact is perfect will not happen and there is a huge difference between better and worse. Choose better even when imperfect." Anton huffs off.

In the morning, "Let's move on.

Is there time in the morning for Anton to do services? Let me know, thanks. I think we have exhausted this campfire, time to get to Oleg's.

Male Human Paladin 2

Arkady watches the grass as the party rides northward, the creak of the wagon wheels behind them an ever-present irritant, partly with an eye towards good grazing for the horses, partly with an eye towards seeing ambushers.

At the rate we're moving, Anton has time for the basic service, the advanced service, and the afternoon children's matinee service

[spoiler=Horseback conversation]
"What do you think Svetlana is cooking?"

Campfire Conversation:

"Amen Anton. Let us now strive for perfection, but for the good if we ever have the opportunity to rule."

Kata mounts back up and rides with the rest for Oleg's, happy for the thought of a day or two to rest with a roof over her head.

Horseback conversation:

"Think or hope, cousin? I'm dreaming of cherry tarts."

Male Human Paladin 2

Horseback conversation:

"Hot oatmeal with dried fruit in it -- may we be lucky!"

Arkady is thinking of horses, and training, and of scouting around near Oleg's to see if there is a useful training area within easy ride of the place. A meadow for archery practice, dry enough for horseback, with timber nearby to build a corral and practice sneaking through the woods in...

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

Horseback Conversation:
"A simple game pie would do me," Marcus replies, licking his lips. He could do with a decent bath as well, as he is covered in days of grime. Thanks to the fae prank, Marcus has his hair tied back with a thin strip of leather.

Anton performs services regaining his full powers. Then leaves with the others.
Thanks, Arkady. Yes at current pace we could build castles.

Campfire Conversation:
What does Kata mean by that? Is she agreeing with me, disagree, or just missed my point? Anton looks puzzled after Kata's remark but then shrugs and shuffles on.

Anton appreciate the wild beauty of this untamed land as he rides through.

horseback conversation:
"Whatever it is, I know it will be far better than the trail rations we've been eating, and while I appreciate the fresh food Devlin has provided, in Svetlana's kitchen it would become a meal fit for kings!"

Not sure of the modifiers needed for the forced march so a couple of rolls.
1d20 ⇒ 17
1d20 ⇒ 15
Add whatever modifiers you deem appropriate, Ryuko, and use at will.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

To clarify, a forced march is two fortitude saves. DC 15, then 16, for your last two hours of travel. Failing the first makes you fatigued, failing the second makes you exhausted. In addition, as a houserule, fatigued induces a 5% spell failure, which is raised to 10% by exhausted.

Bigger characterpost up soon, I'm very sick and the creative juices aren't flowing too well.

Sorry that you are sick, we didn't know the reason for the posting fall off. Hope it isn't serious and get well soon.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

It's not particularly serious, just a nasty flu, I seem to be on the mend.

Fickle Hand of Fate:
1d20 ⇒ 6
1d20 ⇒ 3

The rain begins within a few hours of you setting out and by the time Oleg's is in sight the wind has picked up and thunder rumbles overhead. It seems another spring storm is oncoming and you suspect you'll be grateful for the roof over your head tonight.

As you approach Oleg's two riders approach, their cloaks and cowls pulled against the wind and showing the colors of the Brevic guard. "Halt! Who approaches?" The taller of the figures asks, throwing her hood back to show fierce Taldan features and a strong look of suspicion.

Male Human Paladin 2

"Arkady Medvyed", yells the aforesaid. "I'm sure Oleg has told you all about us!" Arkady throws back his cloak to reveal his face and tabard. Pointing to each in turn, "This is my cousin Kata, Marcus Labatov, Anton the Chosen of Gorum, and Kheldor Shadow-walker!"

I was agreeing with you Anton, change "now" to "not".
Fort Save #1 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 1 = 14
Fort Save #2 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10

Kata barely manages to pick her head up from her chest. "I really hope you are the guards Oleg was expecting last time we were here and not bandits that got lucky."

Male Human Paladin 2

Fort Save #1 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
Fort Save #2 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22

"I doubt bandits would be riding horses in the rain," Arkady says. He appears ready to keep going for another few hours.

Anton just nods at Arkady's introduction and awaits events.
Just use the rolls I made above for the forced march, he should be fine.

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

Fort #1: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16
Fort #2: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2

Marcus eyes the new arrivals with suspicion, his hand dropping to the grip of his weapon automatically.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

"So he did." The woman replies to the names. "Told us of your rather... one-sided battle with the bandits that came to harass him too." She pulled her horse forward enough to share an arm grip with Arkady. "We arrived later in the day. Glad someone was there to make sure we weren't too late. Alea Ageray." She says by way of introduction. "Corporal Alea Ageray, of the Red Hawks, 10th Guardsman Company of Restov. And this is Hrothgar Bronzepot." She says, pointing to the other guard, who pulls back his hood to show a smiling dwarvish face that greets you with a nod. "Come on back to Oleg's with us and we'll introduce you to the rest of the gang." She turns her horse quickly and heads towards the fort.

As you pass through the archway of the fort you can see that it has changed in the time you were away. The crumbling areas of the wall are reinforced by timber stockades, and one hole has already been rebuilt of stout gray stone. Another guard, posted above the gates, waves at your guides as you head in. Alea leads you to the stables to drop off the horses, then into the main lodge, which is packed with people in the rain.

The hall is filled with music, coming from a lyre and flute played by two guardsmen, giving it a much more festive atmosphere despite the storm outside. There were five men in guardsmen colors inside, along with an older man wearing robes with the stag of Erastil embroidered prominently upon them, and the Levetons. Oleg and Svetlana are in the middle of a laugh with a pale, dark haired guardsman when you walk in and Oleg jumps to his feet. "My friends," He says, jumping up to pound those he can reach on the back and sheperd them toward the table. "Sit. Sit. How goes the bandit killiing?" He asks with a smile. Upon hearing of the raid on the Thorn River Encampment he turns to the dark haired guard, who looks you over sulkily. "Told you Garress. Pay up." Oleg says with a grin, and the guardman tosses a purse onto the table toward the group. "Have some food and drink." Oleg says, pointing at a massive stewpot set above the fire and a flagon on the table. The spicy scent of the stew is mouthwatering after a long days ride.

Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)/Veiled Illusionist 1

Kheldor walks in to the main hall, and pushes back his hood. He greets Oleg with a smile and asks for a mug of something warm to go with the stew. After he eats, he tells a rousing tale of the battles and trials faced by him and his companions, enhancing the story with various minor spell effects, along with a fair amount of embellishment.

Male Human Paladin 2

Once he gets in sight of the new construction, Arkady whistles in appreciation. "You and your folk have done wonders here in the week we were gone, Corporal! Ah... they are your folk? That is to say, you're in command, right?" If not, he asks who is. He doesn't spend much time looking at the walls, given the rain, but it's definitely on his list of things to do once the weather improves. Arkady does make sure the cart is parked out of the rain along with the horses, just on general principles.

"Food and fire! Nothing more welcome to a hungry man, and we have had hard fighting and a rough road. Your hearth is a welcome sight!" Arkady exchanges friendly backslaps with Oleg. "Alas, we failed to find Svetlana's ring, but we have an idea where it might have been taken." He sits down at the table and digs in with a will, drinking moderately but not abstemiously. Time to celebrate success, and enjoy hospitality.

Arkady listens admiringly to Kheldor, and enlarges on the role everyone else played, especially Anton. "Why, the bandits' captain was chasing us all over the place, but she just threw down her axes rather than face him, once he came thundering out of the woods!" Arkday doesn't deny his own part, but he seems eager to find the good side of everyone's adventures along the way, even Marcus'. He also tries to learn the names of all the new guards, and asks them about their skills, their pasts, convenient tricks for surviving in the wilderness and hunting bandits, and other tricks of the trade.

Diplomacy check to gather information: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10

Anyone here other than guardsmen or the innkeepers? If so, Arkady takes note and tries the same thing with them.

If anyone asks about Devlin or Linier, Arkady introduces them as men new-sworn to him, and having done valuable service in the fight against the bandits. If anyone brings up their past, Arkady pins them to the wall with a glare and says that they've given him good service since they swore their oaths, and that's that. (Mindful of Marcus and Arkady's past warnings, he doesn't bring the two of them up first thing, and tries to be diplomatic about it if it does arise, emphasizing that they couldn't have found the bandit camp without some help.)

Diplomacy check to bring them along: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (11) + 6 = 17

As the food and tales wind down, he introduces himself to the old man with the stag robe. "Do I read rightly from your robe that you follow Old Deadeye, sir? If so, what brings you here?"

After dinner is over, Arkady seeks out Oleg and has him fetch Devlin's father's bow, then returns it formally to him. "Bear it well. Shoot skillfully and in honor. May Old Deadeye's blessings go with it."

Exhausted, Kata decides to let her companions tell the tales while she digs into the stew to build back her strength. "We have also learned of a larger force of bandits further south. So, unfortunatekly, we're not done with them yet in spite of these victories." She yawns. "Excuse me everyone. The last couple hours have taken a lot out of me. I think I need to get some rest."

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

"Well that's mostly Hrothgar, he's a damned good engineer." The little dwarf nods, obviously pleased you noticed his work. "He's working on the catapults too, though he says the parts are extremely specialized." At the question her dark eyes widen. "No, no. I'm just a corporal. Sergeant Garress is in charge. Kesten Garress. You'll see him inside."

The food is, as always when Svetlana is cooking, quite delicious. "Well if mites have it that's good news. Bandits coulda sold it to traders, but mites could only trade it to other humanoids in the are or hold onto it." Oleg makes a motion toward Garress, presumably Sergeant Kesten Garress, who looks annoyed. "Garress here brought us a new set of bounties for my board. You should look it over, they're good to get you some money. I meant to give you some reward for your service earlier, I'll pick it up when dinner is finished. You already finished the bandit's bounty that Garress was set to give you all. Ten bandits dead, and they'd finished before you got here. Four hundred gold pieces for you there." Oleg motions to the purse, still on the table. "Yes. A very good job done for the realm, sirs and madam." Kesten says, his eyes showing how much he really thought of the deed.

The guards seem happy to talk, except Garress from Oleg's table, who barely speaks, with a morose flat tone to his few words. None of the guards seems to have any issue with Devlin, Silas or Linier, though they try to stay out of the spotlight, obviously bothered by fraternizing with those so recently their enemies.

The man seems a little surprised to be spoken to, his eyes suddenly focusing on you over his bristling mustache. "Aye. I'm a follower of the Stag." He says, and after realizing you are too, his eyes light and he smiles widely, though a little shakily. "Always wonderful to meet a brother of the faith. As for what brings me here... I imagine you could help me with that." The man pulls you into the chair next to him and speaks quietly to you. "My divinations have uncovered important information. It seems there is a temple to the Stag here in the Stolen Lands. An old temple, carved into the side of a bluff and guarded by a mighty bear somewhere to the south. I would have this temple cleansed, and this daemon of a bear put down. Look for this place in your travels." He intones gravely, before placing a heavy hand on your shoulder and stating, "Blessings of Erastil go with you my child."

Male Human Paladin 2

Arkady takes a look at the new reward posters, then divides up the reward among the heroes. Was that 400 gold pieces in total, or 400 for each of us?

"My thanks for your blessings, sir. I will keep my eyes watchful for this temple," Arkady promises the man. "Is there anything else you can tell me of it, or of its guardian? 'Daemon of a bear' sounds very unpleasant, and Old Deadeye says 'Know what you aim at before you loose the arrow.' By the way, what shall I call you?" Arkady wonders privately if the man has been drinking too much, and resolves to keep his own intake lighter. Possibly some of that shows on his face, though he tries not to let it. Bluff 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20.

For the rest, Arkady sits back and enjoys the warmth, the company, and the conversation. He resolves to speak privately to Kesten Garess tomorrow morning, assuming nothing else happens before then. Having the guard commander unfriendly would be a bad thing. He also speaks to Oleg about maybe finding a place to employ Silas (assuming none of the other PCs wish to). "Looks like you could use an extra laborer around here, with all the work."

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

As the fort comes into sight, Marcus feels the tension that had been working it's way up his spine was away. It was good to see the squat timber, and now stone, form appear out of the driving rain.

"Hail, Corporal Ageray," Marcus said when she introduced herself, "Mister Bronzepot. It appears you've done a masterful job on the stonework." Marcus was simply happy that civilisation was beginning to make it's stamp in the Stolen Lands.

Once they are inside, fatigue begins to catch up with Marcus. He sits for a while, enjoying the music, camaraderie and food but eventually tiredness catches up with him and he heads for rest at the same time as Kata.

Anton comes out of the rain with some relief. He greets Oleg and Svetlana warmly wishing them well. His ears visibly swivel when the corporal names Kesten Garess. Another high family takes interest here? What do I know of this one?

Knowledge (Nobility) 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16 About Kesten Garress, is there a reason a high-born man is a mere Sargent?.

Noting that Sargent Garess seems annoyed by the party or the payment, Anton's attention is diverted to the Erastilian that Sir Arkady is speaking to when a Demon Bear is mentioned. Finally, a worthy foe!

"A Demon Bear! Excellent, A great challenge, a great battle to come. Do you have any more precise idea where we could look?" Anton seems quite eager to face a foe that will actually fight him!

After whatever response the follower of Erastil makes, Anton remembers his courtly manners, and turns back to Kesten Garress. "Pardon me, Kesten of House Garress, I'm Anton, Son of Domna, of House Lebeda, Blood Chosen of Gorum, here for family and faith. Pray, may I ask what great need brings a man of breeding to this oft forsaken wilderness?" Anton executes a courtly bow to Kesten but not a deep one.

It's odd to send someone of such rank to command a small company in a remote outpost, and not even an officer! Is it a plot or simple disgrace, or deep ambition? It seems that he does not like competition.

Sense Motive 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14 What's Kesten up to? What does he really think?

After eating the fine meal with the eagerness of hunger and days of rough meals but still with impeccable manners, Anton turns to Sir Arkady and his co-religionist. "Regarding Silas, given his skill in drawing the map to the bandit camp I think that leaving him to common labor is not the best choice in the long run. If you don't mind Sir Arkady, and if your new friend agrees, perhaps Silas could be taught his letters. It would help with his muteness and maybe give us a map-maker in return, something we sorely lack. I would, of course, pay a compensation for any lessons given. What say you?" Anton will stay with the group until things break up then will say, "I'll have services at dawn tomorrow for any that seek Gorum's favor, all are welcome of course. It'll be outside the walls to allow others a peaceable morning if that is their wish." Anton's off to bed.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

Check Discussion Tab

The priest does seem a little into his cups, but not to a truly shameful level. "My name? Oh right. Johd Kavken." The old man smiles. "Apologies, when you're the only priest in a village for your whole life you tend to forget that some people don't know your name." He looks thoughtful as Anton and Arkady throw out questions about the bear. "I know little about it. Only that it's as big as a horse at the shoulder and must have twice the meat. It just feels... wrong somehow." He shrugs his wiry shoulders. "I don't know where the temple is, only south, in the forests." At Anton's suggestion he blinks. "Well it has been a long time since I taught anyone his letters but I could likely manage it." Silas seems amenable, even eager to this plan. It's obvious he would like to be able to communicate with more clarity.

Note that there are plenty of people in Brevoy who are intermarried into houses of note or carry so little blood all they have is the name and the pride.

Kesten Garress is a good leader of men, but one who has trouble keeping his sword in his sheath. Not the steel sword of the guard, but the sword given to all men. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say he is the type that likes to sheath it where it doesn't belong. His tendency for seducing any woman who catches his eye has angered many a potential suitor or husband, which has kept him from significant advancement.

Kesten nods deeply at the bow, though he doesn't stand to serve one himself. "The need that brings all guardsmen where they must go. The defence of the realm and it's people." The surly guard makes a motion at the Leveton couple. "Speaking of which, it would seem there is still a significant bandit threat. My ten men can hold off damn near a half a cohort with these walls to help us but we would have trouble with the Stag Lord's full forces, and if he chose to he could likely keep us from getting any more food or game. We will need to have a discussion soon as to what is to be done about him." At the mention of Anton's service he holds up a hand. "No need Blood Sworn," He says, bringing from his shirt a silver chain holding a miniature greatblade. "My unit performs services an hour after dawn, immediately followed by group drills."

Male Human Paladin 2

Arkady is one of the folks who wear the name with pride because they don't have a lot more to wear... :)

Arkady nods to the priest. "I come from a small village myself, sir, so I know that well. We will search the woods for any sign of that temple." He hesitates for a minute. "I confess I had not thought much about Silas, and if he can learn it will be a better future for him than stableboy. Thank you for teaching him. And if you are doing services here... may I attend?" He glances over his shoulder at Anton and Kesten exchanging plans. "Gorum's services were always a little... loud. And I find myself... in need of guidance from those wiser and more experienced than myself."

He says no more at the moment, but his ears perk up a bit at the discussion of bandits and their possible tactics. He dishes out another bowl of stew and walks over to join Kesten Garess. "A cohort? How many men does this Stag Lord have, anyway? I had thought, oh, a dozen or two, maybe three spread about."

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

In his cot, Marcus pens a letter to the church back in Brevoy.

Abadar's blessings, I write to you in order to provide an update on the current situation. Our group has handled several bandits so far, although the main instigator appears to be a man who calls himself the Stag Lord. Of my party, Arkady Medyved appears to be a natural leader. The half-orc, Anton Lebeda, appears to be a man of honour. Kata Medyved is flighty but good with magic. Finally, the mage called appears to be far too liberal at heart but claims to follow Desna. I would appreciate any background on these four. It appears that Erastil and Gorum have large followings in the area, but I hope to change this. Yours faithfully, M.

Marcus sealed the note and set it under his pillow with the intention of passing it to Oleg to send as soon as possible.

About status, we'll just say that Anton's has a view from the King's Court that limits his understanding of the less central members of the great families. My thinking was that because of pride, if you were of officer class you started as an officer or starved or at least changed your name if you took a menial's post like a mere Sergeant. And if that comes off as merely arrogant then I'm not playing the attitudes of most medieval nobility, especially the poor ones, as haughty enough! Anton doesn't even see arrogance in himself.

When Kesten talks of services Anton lights up and says, "Excellent, then I'll join you then, by your leave. My companions and I will continue our mission after if signs are auspicious." When Arkady mentions his notion of numbers in light of what Kesten said Anton turns to Kesten saying, "You believe that Stag Lords force are so numerous? I would think there to be too little prey for such numbers but perhaps he is raiding deeper than I thought. I know we are working a little too blindly here, any information you have would be greatly appreciated, commander."

At some discreet time Anton tells Svetlana about Kesten's problem and asks that she tell him of any improprieties that Kesten may make, and assures her that he will take action. He makes it clear that Kesten is a seducer not a forcer.

Elsewhere he talks to Kata privately. "It's somewhat ... embarrassing to bring this up Kata, but from family gossip it seems that Kesten Garress is a known to be indiscriminate in wooing women, like if they are betrothed or married it is not going to stop his advances. His low rank is due to the influence of outraged families rather than military incompetence. I'm sure you can handle yourself well, milady, but know that you have my support in the very unlikely event it's required. Note that his reputation is as a seducer not ... otherwise."

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

The next morning dawns, full of cloud cover and with a heavy fog keeping anyone from seeing far ahead of themselves. It continues to drizzle on and off through the morning. Anton and Kesten duel while some guardsmen watch and pound their shields. Kesten fights well, with a long blade and a shield making him very difficult to hit. Johd does not plan any services but will give any advice he can to Arkady, and after talking a bit of business with Oleg it seems time to head out again. Svetlana stops you before you ride out. "Would you mind... my sister, Katarina lives to the east, about ten miles. She's been wanting to visit but she fears travelling the road with the bandits about. On your way back would you mind stopping by there to bring her to us?"

Where to?

Male Human Paladin 2

Arkady asks Jhod "If I am to judge between one man and another, how do I tell when someone is telling the truth, and when they are lying? Or when someone is beyond redemption and when they can be brought back? I suppose experience helps, but as mother always said 'Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment', and I would like to do as little of the latter as may be. Being a lord is shaping to be harder than I had imagined, at first."

Arkady is not talking, yet, about his paladin status, though Jhod may be able to tell that he's got other things on his mind than just judging.

He watches the sparring and joins in after a while, if anyone is interested in some swordplay.

As far as destination goes, "If you check Oleg's board, there seem to be many requests to hunt within the forest, but I suspect that bandits are more likely to be found close to the roads, and to crossing points of rivers, where they know their victims may be found. We need to learn the land, find where paths and trails and gathering points are, and every bandit we kill outside the Stag Lord's fort will make dealing with him easier, in the end. I suggest quick sweep southwards to continue our search for the mites. We can then loop eastwards and return by way of Svetlana's sister's place, which also gives us the chance of catching any bandits preying on the road."

Anton makes sure to find out exactly where Svetlana's sister lives, and get a description of her and her dwelling, so we won't get lost trying to find her.

We'll take Devlin and Linier with us, as scouts and guards (and hunters). "Perhaps ten days worth of food; with some hunting, we might be able to scout out there for as long as two weeks."

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

Once Marcus rises, he asks Oleg to send his note to Brevoy. He then reads the notice board in order to see what jobs need to be carried out so that they have white of everything that needs to be done. After that, he converses with Hrothgar the Dwarven Engineer to discuss how soon they'd be able to replace the wooden palisade with a stone wall all the way round the fort.

"I'd also appreciate some kind of estimate as to how long it would take to construct a gaol. If we are to brig civility and law to this land, we need somewhere between pardon and execution. If you'd be so kind as to draw up some plans and estimate the cost of materials, I'd be much obliged," Marcus says to the dwarf. He the. Watches the sparring with mild interest, clapping where appropriate.

"Two weeks sounds good," Marcus replies to Arkady, "It will give us time to scout the area. I want to try and get more information on the Stag Lord and his men, if possible."

Male Human Paladin 2

"Do we want to go as far as his fort?" Arkady asks. "We know roughly where it is. Even if we have not the strength to assault it, we may succeed in ambushing a bandit or two."

Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)/Veiled Illusionist 1

Kheldor rises a full two hours before dawn, enjoying the quiet the night brings. It was odd to him, being awake during most of the day. He was used to sleeping through the day and waking a few hours before nightfall. He was at his best in the dark.

He uses the hour before the sun rises to prepare his spells for the day, as saying a couple of brief prayers to Desna. As others awake, he greets them politely.

"I don't we should get too close to the fort. We might be able to ambush a few bandits, but we're just as likely to get ambushed ourselves. Especially since they know the area far better than we do."

Anton's duel with Kesten goes well, Kesten with a strong sword and board style in the older Iobarian tradition, Anton with the standard Gorum two-hander style with powerful, large, lazy-eight sweeps. Few of Anton's blows hit but are scored as deadly with Kesten more rapid style wears Anton down, it ends with the mock duel in Kesten's favor with his greater experience but not by much. "Well fought, Kesten, you are not one to let the size of your opponent to throw you off."

Anton takes a ten-day supply of trail rations with him, along with some spirits to gift the fey with. (Not the liberated liquor set.) He looks out at the fog wondering if it would lift later in the day. He listens to the discussion as they ride out as to where they should go. "I agree with Kheldor, - don't look so shocked, he's a clever man and right in this case. I appreciate boldness as much as anyone but we know too little right now and a scouting can turn to battle all to quickly. And if we are to be gone that long we should check on Svetlana's sister sooner than later, with numbers of the bandits large, everyone is more at risk than I thought or hoped. Best we explore around for the mites and then sweep through new areas on the way back. By then I hope we have learned more and gained more experience working together. We can so further our charter and protect some people and not risk a premature encounter, while the Stag Lord sounds like a unthinking brute, some of his lieutenants sound all too able." Anton is confident in his opinions but looks around for the others to respond.

Male Human Paladin 2

"Kheldor is right," Arkady finds himself saying with some surprise. "They will know the local ground. So a shorter sweep, then. And if we find any local folk, we should speak throughly with them. Which reminds me..."

He turns to Devlin and Linier. "Stay with us till the fog lifts. We can communicate with horn signals, but that will take some time to practice and get right. As we ride, tell me what you know of how the bandits operate, where they camp, and so on. Every bit you can tell will help us. How do they recruit new members? Do they get information from any of the locals? Who do they prefer to rob? Where do they lay ambushes? How do they scout? What tricks do they use? Where and how do they cross rivers? The more we know, the easier and faster we can prevent banditry, and catch the bandits. The faster we do that, the easier it will be to offer them what I have offered you: a part in making this land a better place. The longer the fight, the higher tempers on all sides, and the crueller the struggle grows."

Arkady knows that they won't know all of that -- new guys won't have access to the secrets -- but he's trying to be comprehensive and methodical in extracting information.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

Fickle Hand of Fate:
1d20 ⇒ 13
1d20 ⇒ 14

Johd sighs heavily, "That's a tough question boy. It's tough to know when a man is lying. You have to learn to either lie, or be lied to enough times to recognize it." The man takes another pull from his cup. "I'm afraid I have no help for you. Know the character of the man and you'll eventually have a way to know, but that's all I can help."

"My... a gaol." Hrothgar rubs his beard with a large hand. "I don't believe I can manage that. Not without a lot more gold than we've got." He looks around a bit. "Bringing stone up here will be hard. I've managed to reinforce parts of the wall, but to manage the whole wall... maybe 2000 gold? And a gaol... about the same for materials, but to manage the manpower to get it done... that'd be tough. We can't make the guards work round the clock or anything. If you wanted it done in a month you'd need maybe 10,000 gold to hire 'em, get 'em out here, feed 'em. I don't think we can manage it." He shrugs with a sad look, obviously wishing he could help.

I'll be totalling the gold and credit in the OOC and handing it out in a bit. Subtract anything you buy from your share. Do we want a group share or not? Oleg can get you some strong liquor for about a gold a bottle.

You are able to gain a bit of information on the bandits, and a full description of things from Svetlana. As you ride, the day grows a bit warmer, though still colder than is comfortable. You spend the day exploring the area immediately south and around mid afternoon you find something odd.

An area about 200 feet across in which there are no trees, and little plant life. The ground is rough here, and the tall grasses are backed away from the area.

Perception DC 10:
The ground is rough with the bones of small animals. Rabbits, squirrels and other prey. Nearer the center you even see the skeleton of a boar tangled into the grass.

Perception DC 16:
1d20 + 11 ⇒ (5) + 11 = 16
You notice the slightest hint of a black and red carapace, covered in hair, near the center of the circle. It seems some kind of creature is hiding with a small deadfall in the center of the dead area.

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7

Marcus rides with the group in contemplative silence, pondering on how best to approach the issue of the Stag Lord. It seemed that the group were easing away from directly confronting him, which was a good thing, but it appeared they wished to avoid him entirely until later. Marcus could not help but feel this was a bad thing but continued on in silence.

Male Human Paladin 2

Arkady continues thinking about the Stag Lord. Eventually word would come back of the loss of one camp, and there would be reaction. What sort? Would he pull back? Unlikely in the starvation of spring; they would need food and loot after a hard winter. Set ambushes? Patrolling the roads, or using the cart as a decoy to attract raiders, might work. Scout harder? That was bad -- an ambush set against them could be bad. Another reason to avoid the forest for a while; arrows out of the brush could fell anyone with little warning and not much chance of catching one person with a ready escape route or a blind. Ten or twelve men could charge the line of an arrow and might notice; five or six, less so.

"Perhaps we could form a militia?" he suggests out loud at a rest break. "The guards, local trappers and hunters, maybe some other folk. With a few archers to back us up, and scouts to track them, assailing or ambushing the bandits would be a lot easier." A trace of doubt enters his voice. "But how would we entice them into a pitched battle?"

Devlin Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 6 +?
Linier Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 3 +?
Arkady Perception: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9

Form a militia, could try I suppose, so far the bandits know where people are better than we, but that's one of the problems we have, they know more than we do. I think we have a bit of time, even when Kressle fails to report, it will take a while before they know what happened. We need to cover more ground and our numbers are too few for that, militia ... I don't see anything better than that but finding and organizing it could take quite a while. And yes only stupid bandits would go for a field battle that isn't to their advantage but not all of them are clever. Let's look about the land a bit, that may bring about some new allies."

Perception 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10

"What an odd looking spot, why is the ground so barren there?" Anton looks around and starts his odd sniffing about. "Lots of bones of animals about that area. Mostly small like rabbit but there is a boar's skeleton near the center. Something's up, what do the woodsmen say?"

"That seems like a good idea to see if there are others that would work with us or be able to tell us more of the land. I must rely on the two of you to offer advice on tactics with the bandit fort. That is definitely not my strength. But, laying traps for them in the woods or helping to recruit allies. That is something I can do."

As we approach the area with little plant life.
Perception 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
"Get back! There is something hiding under there with a black and red carapace. Maybe a large bug of some kind."
Knowledge (Nature) 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29

Male Human Paladin 2

"Bows out!" Arkady yells at Devlin and Linier. He couches his lance and prepares to charge if anything hostile is chargeable.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

Kata recognizes the creature as a trapdoor spider, the biggest she has ever heard of, almost the size of a pony. Likely it will hide inside its hole until injured or someone gets close enough for it to try to grab it. Luckily the monster lacks offensive web attacks, but it's poison could be nasty.

Devlin draws his bow eagerly and Linier follows suit, clearly apprehensive.

"Ew! That thing is the biggest trapdoor spider I have ever seen. It is probably nearly as big as a horse...well, maybe a pony. If we stay away it probably will stay put...but, I suppose we should really do something. Things wouldn't be very safe for other travelers if we leave it there."

She stops and thinks for a moment, "What do you want to do? We can probably shoot it from range, but its coming our way as soon as we do. I could make one of you twice your size. Otherwise, I should probably just stay back and make sure it has bad luck."

HP 15/15, AC 17, touch 14, ff 13

Marcus starts from his internal dialogue as everyone readies themselves; he pulls his crossbow out and loads a bolt.

"I suggest we shoot it from afar, and let Arkady and Anton deal with it if it closes the range. Any objections?"

Male Human Paladin 2

"The ground seems too rough for a safe charge. If we can bring it out, then loose arrows, I think it would fall soon enough. Can we burn it out of its hole?" Arkady asks, gauging distances. "We would need oil and open flame; the ground and grass are too wet to carry a burning. Or does Kheldor have any magic to drive it out? Call it out?"

He stares at the situation, slowly estimating distances and counting on his fingers.

"If that fails, I have some other ideas." He does not elaborate, but his face seems worried as he dismounts and takes his bow down from behind his saddle, telling Gildas simply "Stay," and dropping the reins. He thrusts his lance into the ground beside him, ready to be grasped. Devlin and Linier fall in beside him, stringing bows and getting arrows ready.

"We should back off the horses first, aside from Sir Arkady's mount, none of them are trained for combat and will panic if charged by that creature." Anton dismounts and walks his horse a distance way from the dangerous area.

After securing the horse he draws his greatsword and strides back to the battle-line. "By the favor of Gorum, I can make one person large as well, I've practised fighting at that size. Beware that it makes you large, strong, clumsy, and easy to hit. It's bad for archers to be big."

Anton looks over the ground as well saying, "Rough ground indeed, if the arrows draw it into a charge that would be best, though it may attempt to flee. Even so out of its den it will be much easier to take."

Giant bugs. I came to fight vile brigands, the trolls, word of demon-possessed bears, I get giant bugs. Disappointing but soldier on. Anton moves well and prepares for battle but seems oddly dejected.

Male Shadeling Shadowcaster Wizard 5(Shadow Subscool)/Veiled Illusionist 1

"I could create the sound of some sort of animal that it would eat coming close to where its hiding. Hopefully that will draw it out." He looks puzzled for a moment "Any idea what a giant spider eats?"

Male Human Paladin 2

"I see the bones of a pig out there. Perhaps a grunting boar, or snuffling sow? Or would it prefer an oinking piglet?" Arkady nocks an arrow and half-draws, ready to shoot at the spider as soon as he has a clear target. The other two do likewise.

I'm assuming we're 50-100 feet from the spider's den, so if it comes this way Arkady will have time to shoot once and then grab his lance and brace it against a charge. If we're closer, he'll instead step forward with a lance braced against the charge, side by side with Anton.

"Arkady, do you want me to make you larger when it is time for your lance?" While she waits for a response, she murmurs strange words and passes her hands over her clothes.

Casts Mage Armor

Male Human Paladin 2

"Yes, please!" Arjady smiles. "I am not on horseback here."

Kata moves over by her cousin and prepares to cast a spell on him once his arrows are away.

Readies action to cast Enlarge Person after Arkady shoots.

Male Human Super Cruel DM 10

Just waiting on someone to shoot.

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