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Actions for Tranche #2, the shambling corpses:
Corpse A advances 30', to E13.
Corpses C and E both threaten Kevkas, triggering Lioslan's attack, which is a clean miss.
Tranche #3 - Dargrim and Dorn, is up next. In answer to Dorn's earlier question, no, none appear to be bearing weapons of any kind, save their fists.
Ulciscor: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Round One - Tranche #1, is up! That's Innocent and Lioslan. Front page has been updated to include the combat map, as well.
@ Lioslan: most appear to be miners or commoners, though a couple wear the leather armor of guards or light infantry.
@ Ulciscor: while the people are certainly dead, they don't appear to be undead in the traditional sense - there is no glow behind the eyes, for example. Moander is certainly not above using the dead - or the undead - for it's malignant purposes, however.
@ Dorn: despite your exceedingly moving words, none of the bodies react, or act like they have heard you at all.
The road to the mines proper is wide and well-trod, and the sun is still high in the sky, giving a more hopeful air to the afternoon. The feeling quickly dissipates, however, as you come upon a grisly scene - perhaps a dozen bodies, all but one of them a human male, lay scattered at the side of the road. Most are in a state of decomposition and smell horrible. Worse, they seem infested with some sort of plant growth, like a weed with fleshy, thorny vines, green leaves and serrated edges, and grotesque polyps cover their flesh.
To your horror, one of the bodies emits a low pitched moaning sound, before staggering to his feet. He makes no attempt to approach, just standing there, arms swaying, as his mouth, already distended from plant growth emerging from inside him, attempts to form words. Others begin standing as well, until six bodies altogether are upright and facing you.
The encounter map is here. Please place your characters anywhere on line 20 or below. No initiative yet, unless you intend to declare hostile actions.
You scan the white powder more closely. Your trained eye, guided by your god's aid, rejects the idea that the powder could be poison. Instead, you envision an early spring day - the pollen of plants forming a thin layer over a village square, people sneezing and coughing....the powder is actually pollen of some sort. And from what you can tell, by thickness and proximity, the statue was indeed involved in its dispersal.
After a few minutes of effort, Dargrim is able to open the safe - it uses an advanced combination lock, the likes of which few humans would have seen. Inside are over a dozen electrum trade bars. Unstamped by kingdom, city or trade coster, they still represent significant wealth.
While your efforts to value the rubies come to naught, you have more luck with the dagger. At the least, the dagger is a +1 weapon, with double the normal hardness and immune to rust. But there is a deeper magic upon it as well; when bonded to a wielder, the dagger will develop and exhibit new powers as the owner levels up as well.
Argentia lifts her head as Kevkas speaks. I know where it is, and I can take us there. Let me know when you want to leave.
The safe looks heavy and solid - dwarven make - a little trip out the window and a drop of 20 feet or so isn't likely to open it. You can certainly try, of course....
The journal, written in dwarvish runes:
The journal appears to record a number of side-dealings and skimming from the mining operations' pockets. Most of the diversions are relatively small, though some dealings with known enemies, such as Luskan, are detailed. The last entry is of particular interest - a diversion of workers, authorized by "M", to open a new dig in one of the existing mines, thought to have been played out. "The skinny bastards reeked of manure and rot ... but their gold was good, just like M said it would be. They want us to dig about 50' northeast in the old Zenex complex, said there is something there they want access to, something they lost. Brought enough gold for the boys and unstamped trade bars. Will blame lost production on an accident, so will have to sacrifice some undesireables."
"Success! The boys uncovered some sort of ruin at the end of their dig. Creepy place, to be sure, with all sorts of odd growth and the ever-present smell of death and rot. Still, the robed ones seem happy and they've paid up. They've asked that Zenex be sealed off to everyone but themselves. That won't be an issue."
After a few moments of concentration, a faint magical aura is detected under the floorboards beneath the bed. A quick search reveals a small pouch with 25 gp and two small rubies, and a dagger with edges that glitter like diamond - the source of the magic.
Most of the houses you enter tell the same tale - bodies, in the same condition as those outside. Some seem like they were seeking shelter under beds, desks, but to no avail.
That one is the foreman's office and residence - we should check it out. Argentia heads toward an elevated brick structure near the north end of the town.
perception DC 15:
The wooden stairs are covered with the white powder - and undisturbed by footsteps. Likely no-one has been inside the structure since whatever happened here, happened.
The foreman's residence is no more ostentatious than the rest of the village, though the furniture is quality, finished oak and the bed looks more comfortable than the bunks the average miner would sleep in. A thin wooden door leads to a separate office. Nedith's body isn't here - she's been the foreman the past seven months. Maybe she's still alive - I don't recall seeing any dwarven corpses out there. Let's look around, see if anything interesting is to be found.
perception DC 10:
Papers are strewn everywhere, all detailing boring day to day details of the mines' operation, staff reports, etc. The combination safe is locked and looks very secure.
perception DC 15:
A ledger on the desk shows the last entry - an accounting of copper ore extracted from an older mine - as being on the first of Tarsakh. The arrival of the new shift is not documented.
perception DC 20:
A small, leather bound journal is hidden under a false bottom in the main drawer. Written in dethek runes, it presumably belonged to the foreman.
perception DC 25:
Hidden with dwarven cunning in a floorboard under the bed is a secret compartment. Hidden inside is a small pouch with 25 gp and two small rubies, and a dagger with edges that glitter like diamond.
Though numerous, there are not nearly enough bodies here to account for both missing shifts. The ground is covered in a soft, spongy moss that does not show tracks; it's impossible to know if you were the first group to encounter the camp in it's current state.
The burned down buildings do not appear to be as a result of intentional arson; rather, cooking or heating fires appear to have gone untended. The few brick buildings appear untouched, as does the foreman's office.
The strange powder appears thickest around the centre of town; the small statue seems to stand at the centre of the destruction.
As your group moves into the camp, strange details begin to emerge. The dead - and virtually everything else in town - are covered by a fine, white powder. The eyes of the dead are swollen shut; their tongues, grossly over sized and white, protrude from their mouths. Some few have vines or other vegetation growing out from their mouths, noses and ears. Neither were village animals spared - dogs, cats, and livestock also lay dead. The extremities of the bodies have rotted quickly, some putrefying almost to liquid, and the smell is nauseating.
The vegetation in the town seems to have thrived, however, growing wildly, though into grotesque shapes that are suggestive of horrifying, nearly humanoid shapes.
At the centre of the small town is a stone dais, upon which is a small statue. The statue depicts a humanoid being, though grotesquely malformed. Reaching vines circle it's limbs and dig in with barbed claws. The head of the statue resembles a vicious, grasping claw, with a hideous fanged maw opened wide, facing the heavens.
religion DC 15:
An ancient depiction of Moander, God of rot and decay. Thoroughly evil and cruel, though now little more than a cult in the darkest corners of Faerun.
From your vantage point, no, nothing unusual when the tracks around you are examined. The road up to the mines is heavily traveled, of course, but that is to be expected.
Argentia appears troubled. If they were not attacked - then what happened? We should move in and take a look. We also need to make sure the mines are secured.... perhaps there are survivors there?
Argentia shrugs. We were never certain that the miners had been waylaid by Orcs; it simply seemed the most likely of possibilities. But you are right - if there were an Orc camp here, we'd know by now. Orcs are anything but subtle, at least usually.
Like a shadow, you are able to make your way unseen by anyone or anything. You're able to get to within about 300 feet of the small mining camp. There's about two dozen buildings, several of which look to be burned down, though the fires have long since died. Bodies litter the open ground, some in piles, others alone; from a distance it's hard to tell but most look like civilians, and have been dead a couple of days at most. You see no sign of hostile forces, nor any movement.
Argentia was silent, scanning the area, her head straight up. This is odd. I don't see, hear, or smell any evidence of Orcs. The village is only half a mile away....their presence should be obvious.
There is no evidence of Orcs here. In your experience, heads and bodies should be displayed as a warning, smoke from cooking fires and the sounds of wardrums should be obvious to all. Nor do you smell the scents of an Orcish camp - waste, offal, curing leather .... you feel confident that there are no Orcs here.
Very well. Let us proceed to the mines. But I'm not going to forget this. I'm not going to forget anything.
And fast forward to the mines.....
From your vantage point, you see no sentinels, no guards. Your group has good cover and, as far as you can tell, you've not been seen.
The mining camp is about a half mile past the towers; I'm surprised there are no guards there - it gives me pause. Argentia whispers this while scanning the area.
Dammit! Dammit... I know ... we've got a bigger job ahead. But this cannot go unavenged. She cuts a swift glance at your group. Those who will stand with me - if we live - I want to return here after we've killed our enemies at the mines. I want these people to be interred properly. Then I want us to find that pack of monsters, and I want us to kill every last one of them.
She picks up her bow and begins to walk from the clearing. Stopping a moment, she looks back over her shoulder. My sisters bones could be here. Maybe she fell prey to these monsters, in the dark of the night, alone...
Though herself a skilled ranger, Argentia seems unable to pick up the trail by herself; your group, working together, helps to find enough sign to direct you towards the ever-thickening woods to the east.
After a few minutes of travel, ever-deeper into the woods, you come upon a small clearing. It is clearly a feeding den of some sort; bones litter the ground, and evidence of a recent kill is clear from the amount of blood and gore. A human skeleton, largely devoid of any flesh, seems the most recent addition, being largely intact. Scraps of clothing are strewn about the clearing.
perception DC 15:
Amidst the debris you find a small purse with 5 sp and 3 gp, and a broken silver necklace, with a small medallion at the end, likely a cameo of some sort, save for the fact that it is broken.
Mielikki guard me! Argentia gasps, dropping to her knees. There was someone out there - this woman - she called to us for help and now she's dead. Climbing to her feet, Argentia looks up grimly, addressing all of you. I want them dead. I want to track those worgs and I want to kill them. I want to make sure what happened to this girl doesn't befall any other travelers out here. And I'm going to need your help.
Backing up a little, as Dargrim found the ring....
Argentia studies the ring closely for a minute, before saying: I...do not know who this may belong to... A look of horror crosses her face, which blanches almost white. All this blood - this ring - was there really someone out here last night then? The young ranger takes off east, scouring the ground, looking for more blood.
There must be a trail! Help me look, dammit!
survival DC 20:
There is the occasional splat of blood leading generally eastward, as the foliage - particularly the trees - gets thicker.
It's a tough morning, moving through the brush and from cover to cover the sparse trees provide, but with an experienced ranger at the fore your group makes good time. You encounter no other groups; though at one point you hear the sound of distant drums, originating to the east and north. Argentia squats down flat, and motions for you all to do the same. Waiting until the drum beats end, she breathes out deeply. Not orcs. There are cavemen who live in the foothills and mountains; we've little interaction with them, rarely see them, but they communicate via drums. Let's go.
About a half a mile from the camp, the road leads through two hillocks, each topped by a wooden guard tower. Neither tower, from what you can see, is manned. There is also no easy way around. We could approach from another direction, but we'd be doing so through untested paths. Access to the mines is tightly controlled, and little gets through that is not spied from some distance away. At least, when the towers are manned.
Argentia squats down, looking out into the darkness. I thought ... maybe ... it was my sister, for a moment. Wishful thinking, I suppose - of all the places she could be, wandering up to our campsite, just to be accosted by those beasts... Tymora and Beshaba together would have had to be working closely to arrange such a situation. Argentia glares hard after Innocent but says nothing.
The morning brings an overcast, gloomy day to light. A quick search of the road and the path leading to your campsite reveals plenty of spilled blood, but no other evidence of a person in distress having been here.
perception DC 25:
The sparkle of gold catches your eye, past the road a little to the south and east. More blood, and a small, delicate golden ring are to be found. The ring is simple and unadorned - a wedding band, perhaps?
Argentia looks to the north. The mining camp is another seven, eight miles yonder. We could take the road, which would be quicker, but would also leave us exposed and visible a good distance from the camp - assuming anyone is manning the guard towers. Another option - we keep to the brush and trees just a bit east of the road, and approach that way instead. We'll not get lost as we'll be using the road to guide us, but we'll also not be as exposed. It will be a bit slower, though. Your choice, fellows.
Argentia nods to the spellcasters in the group. We should make sure our wizard and other spellcasters get their rest for the remainder of the night. I'll remain on watch, and could use one or two others to join me, as well. She looks out into the darkness. You don't think there actually was a woman out here, calling for aid, do you? That was just the Worgs, playing their tricks?
This Thursday, Friday and Saturday (the 23rd, 24th and 25th of April) I'll be attending a three day training that will definitely interfere with the game; I may be totally incommunicado, or at best have a few minutes time at the end of the day. I should be back and ready to rock on Monday, the 27th. Apologies in advance; this is the last multi-day training that I know of, in the near future at least.
Actions for Tranche D:
Dorn takes aim with his crossbow, but the bolt goes wide!
Kevkas steps forward and unleashes a mighty blow with his greatsword, drawing a massive gout of blood from the large wolf!
Gyro takes a five foot step to I9 and unleashes a powerful blow with his earthbreaker, crushing the great wolfs' head, killing it instantly.
Combat is over! All characters get 343 xp.
Argentia lowers her bow, listening to the distant howling. Those weren't like any wolves I've encountered before - they must have been Worgs. I've heard of them before - talking wolves. And from the sound of that howling, the main body of the pack isn't too far away.
Actions for tranche C:
Ulciscor channels positive energy, healing Lioslan and Dargrim for 2 hp each. Lioslan is no longer disabled.
DMPC: Dargrim takes a double move action to L8, moving a total of 35 feet. He'll wait till next round to pounce, as moving into melee range without an action is unwise.
Tranche D - Dorn, Gyro and Kevkas - are up next!
Actions for Tranche B:
@ Lioslan: That is a crit! Awesome luck/sense of timing!
Lioslan, his vision dimming, lashes out one final time at the great wolf. The blade cuts deep, neatly severing the foul beasts' head. The body convulses before collapsing into the dirt.
Innocent takes aim at large wolf A. I'll kill you.... he seethes through gritted teeth as he lets his arrow fly:
Attack: 1d20 + 2 - 4 ⇒ (13) + 2 - 4 = 11 <---no precise shot
The arrow finds it's mark, lodging deep into the great wolf's side!
Tranche C is up next - Ulciscor and Dargrim!
Tranche A, the large wolves:
Large wolf A is unable to take any actions!
Large wolf B, seeing no other options, bites again at Lioslan, hoping to take down at least one of you....
Attack: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
It's large fangs find flesh! It bites again at the elven warrior, leaving him feeling groggy and uncertain of his footing. Lioslan has taken 10 hp, his limit, and is disabled.
Large wolves C and D seem about to strike at Dargrim, when a distant wolf call causes them to stop. Growling and snarling, they turn and run into the darkness. Both take a withdraw action, and move 100' and away into the darkness.
Tranche B, Lioslan, Innocent and Argentia, are up next!
Actions for Tranche D:
Dorn moves forward and casts color spray, hitting the two closest beasts in it's area of effect:
Wolf A save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7 blinded and stunned for 1d4 ⇒ 2 rounds, then stunned 1 more.
One of the large wolves catches the brunt of the spray, and howls as it loses it's vision. The second, however, is canny, turning aside at the last moment and avoiding the blinding display.
Gyro follows up with a glancing blow that deals 5 points of damage to wolf B.
Kevkas unleashes a mighty swing but misses, just inches from the wolf's head!
Round One is over. Round two, tranche A is up next!
Actions for tranche #2:
Lioslan lashes out at one of the large wolves, drawing blood with a slash of his curved elven sword, as he retakes his feet.
Innocent takes aim but his shot goes wide!
Argentia, her compound bow already drawn, takes aim at one of the great wolves attacking Lioslan (wolf B):
Attack: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Her arrow sticks between the shoulder blades of the powerful beast, causing it to howl in pain! We have to help the dwarf! she ywlls, drawing another arrow.
Tranche #3 is up - Ulciscor and Dargrim!
The dwarf will have to do! Take him down!
Two large, furred forms leap out at Dargrim, vicious fangs bared! Two more, snarling, move towards Lioslan!
There will be a surprise round for the enemy forces, during which all PC's are considered unaware.
Ulciscor: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Each large wolf takes a move action, putting them within range of their quarry for the first round!
Round One - Group A:
Large wolf A attacks Lioslan:
Lioslan, though surprised, twists out of the way of the first set of snapping jaws!
Large wolf B attacks Lioslan:
The second large wolf's bite does strike true, and allows the ghastly creature to drag Lioslan down to the ground! Lioslan is now prone and has -4 to attack, -4 to AC!
Large wolf C attacks Dargrim. I've not eaten dwarf in some time! Hard flesh, but tasty!!
The monsters vicious fangs strike true, tearing into Dargrims arm, but the stout dwarf refuses to go down!
Large wolf D attacks Dargrim:
But the dwarvish warrior eludes the brutish creatures' fangs!
Group B is up - Lioslan, Innocent, and Argentia!
@ Dorn: certainly, some crossbow bolts or other mundane equipment are not a problem at all.
A chain shirt does seem like it would be easy to don - fixing the belt properly so that it takes the weight off your shoulders would likely take longer than slipping it on.
And sorry, guys, but I was struck down by a nasty migraine today. A little stress in real life = BAM headache. Will be back up and running tomorrow.
The rocks are about 5 feet high on the inside, and a precipitous drop from the outside; aside from someone climbing them no-one will be approaching from that side. Anyone who does climb the rocks will have a somewhat impaired view of the path leading up to the campsite.
The voice seems a little farther now - Dargrim, who is the farthest out and has darkvision, still cannot see where it comes from.
Stealth #2: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22
There's a rough map of the campsite here. The campsite is about 15-20 feet higher than the road; no-one yet has darkvision of sufficient range to see what is transpiring on the road.
Please place yourselves where your character is within the campsite - or, like Dargrim, if you've ventured beyond. Max 30 feet beyond the encirclement of the camp, please.
Yes! Didn't you hear them earlier? They aren't normally a problem due to the size of the groups that travel this road.... Argentia hisses back at Kevkas as she quickly dons her armour.
Innocent's arrow, fired into the darkness, goes long and wide, clattering off the rocks beyond the road. For a brief moment, it does illuminate the road, however - at least one large wolf can be seen, though no sign of the woman who was screaming. The view is fleeting, however, as the road again is bathed in darkness.
Stealth #1: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26
Night settles in as you establish camp on the hill. The south and west are well-shielded by trees and thick brush, and rocky formations to the north mean that the only real way into your campsite in from the east.
First watch goes quietly, though the howling of wolves can be heard to the south, and seems to be getting closer.
During second watch (Gyro and Lioslan): the quiet night is broken by the sound of screaming - a feminine voice - and the snarling of wolves. By the Gods, help me! I've been set upon by wolves! You up there, help me!
The voice comes from the road, to the east and down the hill a little. You up there, help me, please!
I'm a little more lenient about resting than some DM's. The thought of a spellcaster having rested for 7 hours 45 minutes and then having that rest interrupted by the stereotypical "Kobold knocking on the door" just seems mean to me. That poor guy wouldn't be able to memorize spells in the morning.
Instead, I'm thinking we'll go for the DnD 5.0 "long rest" type rule:
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which the character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than two hours. A long rest can be interrupted by up to one hour of strenuous activity before it's effects are negated and you'd have to start again.
I think it's more lenient and fairer to spellcasters.