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Metallic items: in fact, there are a few traders, among the richer in the caravan and traveling near the front, who work with metal. One appears to be a metallurgist and alchemist, another a smith and armorer, and a third the mercantile arm of the group. Among them, they have worked items of various metals. There's a perfectly round shield of bronze, a suit of steel lamellar, stone plate, and a couple of massive-headed axes, all of which are completely unadorned. If Matthias took interest in any of these, I think the traders would be happy offer them to Matthias for adornment.
You can decide whether you just buy the item and decorate it for yourself, do this decoration as a favor to the traders, sell it back as a luxury item, etc. I will note that, if that had been a Perform check, it would have been in the "notice [...] of extraplanar beings" range, so ... maybe hold on to that. What do you do with the item? Which item is it? DO you show it around?
About Bathos's behavior: that sounds entirely reasonable. I imagine that lots of people would throw him little viands of meat and such, as well as petting and playing with him when he seems amenable. No one would trammel him in the execution of his duties.
On the third day, Matthias and Bathos are patrolling near the middle of the caravan. There are two or three guards within earshot.
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Perception (DC 22):
There are well-concealed men in the forest to the left of the wagon train. Their faces are smeared with mud, their clothing of deep browns and greens. Bathos's powerful nose detects nothing; indeed, Matthias seems to feel the mud on their faces and clothing rather than to see them in their hiding places.
The next two days proceed well. Neither brigands nor beasts molest the caravan (and all have come to treat the river with a kind of reverent fear). Matthias and Bathos patrol between the front and the middle of the long caravan, seeing to the safety of all. On occasion, Bathos's magical percipience may note a strange anomaly off the road, but nothing hostile seems to approach the caravan.
For her part, Moltenen is fascinated by Matthias's ability to consume stone and manipulate it as though it were mere dreamstuff. Once or twice each day, she greets Matthias from the window of her spacious carriage. In the evenings, she makes generous offers of wine and pipe, and also admits Matthias to her own dining arrangement, where she, the man who was sleeping in her tent the first night, and a few trusted confidants enjoy somewhat finer fare than the rest of the caravan.
When these pleasant dinners disperse, Matthias is invited to partake of conversation and a game involving the tactical positioning of carved figures on a square board. When Moltenen has desserts or intoxicants, she finds interesting stones, gems, crystals, and ores from among her traders' wares to try to suit Matthias's tastes.
How does Matthias respond to all this? What does he accept and decline? What does he take to, what does he avoid? What does he do with his own initiative on these days?
(10% chance of encounters, so <= 10 on a d100)
Day 1 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 7
Day 2 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 29
Day 3 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 71
How do Matthias and Bathos do their guarding? Moltenen and her higher-ranking guards will tell you that there's a hefty rear guard and a powerful van, but muscle is stretched a bit thin in the middle.
Indeed, the Premier insists, softly but intransigently, that her guest should enjoy this gift, a mixture of meal and trophy. Moltenen raises the glass standing by her at Matthias's toast and watches with fascination as he savors the gems.
The rubies lack the acerbity of metals or the cool, earthy bread-satisfaction of stone. Instead, they enter the palate with an awakening of spices: something like cinnamon and pepper, perhaps a little allspice. The rubies are small, sweet viands, not nourishing but eminently pleasurable, each carven bird leaving you with a desire for just one more.
Does Matthias like sweet/spicy flavors? Does he find this cloying? Decadent? Refreshing?
I'm trying to figure out how Matthias feels about sex after his experience with Ahlysaaria. I feel like he might have blamed his lust for the event. I'm wavering on he's cool with sex in general, but any women he finds substantially desirable unnerves him and he avoids. Or he simply has avoided that part of his life for now. Your thoughts?
That makes a lot of sense. With mercy, the tenderness of sensuality has been eroded from Matthias's spirit, like soft loam from windswept bedrock. 'S okay. Where the soil has once been rubbed away, strong roots may yet enter and soften stone. How do you perceive him?
If Matthias accepts the tent and retires:
Moltenen summons a serving girl, who leads Matthias to a tent, appointed with sparse, yet comfortable, furnishings. She will make light conversation if Matthias appears comfortable doing so.
Once she has straightened the room, she will bring any refreshments Matthias requests. Finally, she will smile evenly, and say, "Am I to be dismissed for the night, then, sir?"
DO NOT PEEK NO ONE IS LYING HERE:
Bluff: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Sense Motive Result:
Moltenen appears to be speaking the truth: she is genuinely grateful for your aid. She does appear to value honesty. You detect that she is guarded, but no more guarded than her last two questions would imply. She remains at ease when you enter and speaks to you plainly, her intense gaze fixed very squarely, though not without friendliness, on your own eyes. She seems entirely ready to be grateful and generous; as you speak, she relaxes further, and you discern that she harbors no further suspicion.
Moltenen is middle-aged, fit, with bronze, unlined skin and thick, dark hair. Her eyes are a glistering orange color. She comports herself with dignity and grace--she is, in a way, the picture of command and opulence. She makes no special effort to conceal the dagger she wears: it is merely there, unobtrusive and ready. The empty wine bottle and still-glowing pipe before her belie her steady gaze and impeccable mannerisms, as though she were able to put on and doff lucidity at will, like a coat of civility.
The groups are intransigent about their hospitality. Most end up respecting Matthias's apparent haste, but there are several camps that seem like a home in their intimacy and the warm, affable manner of even the armed guards. In general, the traders offer their food, their drink, their pipes, and even small gifts of clothing and jewelry without reservation. They speak with equal frequency of the importance of fair trades and the sense that the entire caravan is in Matthias's debt.
Whatever intoxicants Matthias refuses continue to be passed around, and none ask him further questions. His taste for metals and gems proves a puzzle and delight to many in the camps, who continue to be impressed by what appears to them as an utterly novel type of powerful, natural sorcery.
On queries about Ignan, the traders will note that they are "Children of the Fire." Indeed, though most are clearly humans with complexions ranging from porcelain to bronze and hair of flamboyant red or gleaming white or scorching black, not a few ifrits can be found among them. They all claim descent from creatures of elemental fire, and most excitedly enumerate the Ignan intricacies of their names.
It is somewhat past midnight that Matthias reaches Moltenen's tent, but a light remains on within. Physical descriptions of Matthias have traveled faster than the man himself. The several guards outside her tent, distinguished from their peers by the ornate gilding on their sword hilts and the fine embroidery on the hems of their robes, do not even halt him as he approaches, gesturing with extended palms that he may enter freely.
Within, Moltenen is luxuriating on a sofa. Before her is a gleaming coffee service inlaid with small, stately rubies. She clutches a long pipe in her left hand. To her right is a game board populated by carven figures, some of ebony, some cast in iron, others cut from ivory, and still others set with precious stones. She appears absorbed in a ream of thick papyrus documents. She is middle-aged, lovely in the way experience brings, and maintains a stately poise and grace even at this late hour, clad more for comfort than for the reception of visitors.
A young man, visibly nude where the blankets have shifted from his form, slumbers peacefully on a bed at one side of the well-appointed space. Aside from the guards outside, there are no other persons in sight.
Perception DC 14:
Though Moltenen appears to be at ease in clothing fit for sleep, inspection reveals that her attire is cunningly shaped so as not to trammel her were it necessary to run or engage in combat. Among the jewels festooning her throat and waist, the decorated hilt of a heavy, curving knive protrudes from her belt, the sheath apparently ensconced in her clothing.
She will look up, smiling, with an expression of amusement and interest, upon Matthias's entrance.
If Matthias makes relatively swift progress to the head of the caravan:
Physical descriptions of Matthias have traveled faster than the man himself. The several guards outside her tent, distinguished from their peers by the ornate gilding on their sword hilts and the fine embroidery on the hems of their robes, do not even halt him as he approaches, gesturing with extended palms that he may enter freely.
Within, Moltenen is luxuriating on a sofa. Before her is a gleaming coffee service inlaid with small, stately rubies. She clutches a long pipe in her left hand; with her right, she rubs an intricately-carved ebony figurine, which she places deliberately on a game board populated by similar figures, some cast in iron, others cut from ivory, and still others set with precious stones. A young man, nude from the waist up, reclines on a sofa set at an angle to hers so that they face adjacent edges of the game board. They both have full view of the tent's opening.
Perception DC 14 (if in Moltenen's tent (spoilers don't nest)):
Though both figures appear to be at ease and wear sumptuous apparel, inspection reveals that their clothing is cunningly shaped so as not to trammel them were it necessary to run or engage in combat. Among the jewels festooning their throats and waists, the decorated hilts of heavy, curving knives protrude from their belts, the sheaths apparently ensconced in their clothing.
Among the traders are a few with knowledge of the arcane. In particular, the guard who spoke words of encouragement to his fellows commands a bit of magic; he gladly dries Matthias and Bathos.
Word of the incident spreads quickly among the camps. Encounters with hippopotamuses of such size and ferocity rarely end without fatality or serious injury. The sorcery of Matthias, able to end the attacks of beasts without bloodshed, and the strong jaws of Bathos are quickly known to the whole caravan.
Anyone of whom Matthias makes inquiry will be eager to help; if he asks about Moltenen, he will be apprised that she rides at the head of the caravan and beds each night in an opulent tent, almost a mobile pavilion in size and splendor. However, any camp Matthias approaches will threaten to swallow him, as every camp would be proud to host him, sharing their meat and wine.
Depending on how receptive Matthias is to carousing in the camps, he can come within sight of Moltenen's tent after nightfall, at perhaps the tenth or eleventh hour.
That makes sense :). Since it's a solo campaign and Matthias and Bathos share a strong bond, how about you just roll for both their initiatives and take the higher? The alternative is to average their modifiers and roll once, but I like the idea that one can alert the other. Basically a free teamwork feat.
Despite the increasing turbulence, Bathos plunges excellently into the current and plucks forth the gasping, grateful man. The guards cheer to see him safely ensconced in Bathos's jaws, mighty enough to crush bone, yet gently clutching the battered body.
As the excitement and anxiety of the incident wear away, the other traders arrive from over the hill bearing medical equipment. The conscious hippopotamus has withdrawn to the waters in confusion; the other is still draped on the riverbank, critically wounded. A group of traders approach with skinning and carving knives as though to slay and consume it. Due to Matthias's swift and compassionate intervention, no human lives were lost. The guards approach him respectfully, bowing and paying obeisance. They speak words of awe and gratitude. If Bathos suffers them to approach, they will attempt to pet him.
What further actions, if any, would Matthias and Bathos like to take? How will they spend the evening?
Indeed, those that retreated over the hill have begun to return. Just cresting the evening-orange slope are men and women bearing medicines and arms. The wounded, numbering only one more than when Matthias arrived due to his swift action, will be safe if only the healers' skill is stronger than the Boneyard's call.
As Matthias turns his attentions downriver, he sees that one of the groups of guards has reached a point where they might once more attempt to retrieve the man. However, the waters are growing more rapid and erratic. Nonetheless, emboldened by their comrade's rousing words, they heave to.
DC 12 Swim: 1d20 + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 + 4 = 18
And truly, it is only by cooperating and by steeling their hearts with the words of courage that they manage to reach the necessary spot,
DC 18 Reflex: 1d20 + 1 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 1 + 2 = 6
yet their endeavor to snatch the flailing man fails as the flood grows more turbid and torrential.
Bathos splashes down directly next to the unfortunate man.
Because he is swimming to keep pace, rather than reaching out from shore, he need not make a Reflex save. He need only roll Strength to secure the man safely in his teeth.
DC 13 Strength Check (Success):
Bathos successfully plucks the man from the water and is able to stay afloat as he turns back.
Strength Check (Failure):
Bathos positions himself well, but the rushing waters splash deep into his open maw, causing the massive canine's breast to heave as he rejects the sudden deluge. The drowning man slips by and continues downstream.
Downstream, the guards see Bathos running to aid the drowning man--a fabulous, mighty hound glistening in the river shallows. One calls out, "See the powerful wolf, companion to a hero! See, too, how this man's sorcery has stilled the stirrings of a brutal beast! He tends to our wounded; the very earth hears his command! But we, too, are men: let us prove our worth, as well! Heave! Seize the one who thrashes even now!" The guards continue running downstream, shouting, emboldened by their fellow's words and the succor Matthias and Bathos.
With his speed, now that he has got ahead, Bathos is easily able to keep pace and still act each turn. Not so the guards, who can only hope to act fleetingly between bouts of running.
From now, Bathos will be able to take a standard action every turn; the guards, every third turn. Matthias's speed is intermediate between them; I believe he could act on alternating turns once he catches up, if that's his intention.
The one hippo remains still; the other, unable to struggle against the earthen rampart raised before it, returns to the water with a final snarl. The guards who had remained upstream now split up, some running to the camps for help, others heading downstream.
Now on my phone, so I won't be able to update the map for a while.
The guards downstream use their turns attempting to help their imperiled friend.
The map doesn't show it, but they ran way downstream to get ahead of him. They're planning to leapfrog past each other in two groups, helping each other alternately grab and run.
DC 10 Swim: 1d20 + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 = 11
Almost drowning under the weight of his armor, one of the guards makes it into the current with the others stabilizing him.
DC 16 Reflex: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
However, he can barely stay afloat, so his attempt to grab the floundering man fails.
At this point, the man in the stream is about twenty feet below the bottom of the map.
The casualties of combat, man and beast alike, continue to bleed.
NPC Status (DM ONLY):
River Guard 1: -5 HP
North Hippo: -4 HP
South Hippo: 50 HP
Hippoflex: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
The fury-clouded instincts of the hippopotamus give way to primal confusion as the earth responds to Matthias's will. The rich clay and loam below the shallows arise and embrace the creature, the earth attuned to Matthias's gentle intention.
Feel free to alter the positioning if I didn't place the hippo as you wanted it.
The remaining hippopotamus continues its furious gnashing. Its nostrils flare in blind rage; it lashes out at the nearest guard.
Bite: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 182d8 + 10 ⇒ (4, 7) + 10 = 21
It is a fearsome blow, but, due to the remaining guards' defensive posture, the teeth clang awkwardly against the flat of a blade.
Matthias StrorBaek wrote:
It sucks that I obliterated your excellent modifier with that s~&$ty circumstance penalty. -432 to Diplomacy when you are near hippos is harsh, but I think it's fair, since I also give you +432 to Diplomacy when hippos are near you. Sorry, bro.
Also, feel free to read the success text. You'll be jealous of alternate-universe Matthias.
Also, feel free to read the success text. You'll be jealous of alternate-universe Matthias.
Matthias attempts to persuade the noncombatants to proffer aid. However, still repenting himself for reacting in a way not consistent with his standards, the cool power with which his granite voice is wont to resound falls flat. Shamefully, but without turning, they continue their flight.
Doing my best! I knew reading all that Homer would pay off. I'm definitely more comfortable with good descriptions in this medium. When I DM in person, I have a hard time trying to do it while simultaneously managing combat. That's definitely something that makes your in-person sessions awesome: you usually act out or describe our characters beautifully.
The southernmost guards begin to shift their formation, leaving some in a defensive formation to cover the rear while the rest rush downstream.
Roll Diplomacy or Intimidate.
Beat a DC 12:
The fleeing innocents, their resolve steeled at the air of confident command in Matthias's voice, begin to turn back, some shouting to the rest of the caravan to bring tools. With their own guards and an accomplished hero protecting them from harm, they know they can safely commit themselves to the defense of their comrade.
Fail to Beat a DC 12:
The fleeing innocents hear Matthias's call to action, but, having seen the destruction the monstrous river horses can wreak, continue to retreat in terror.
So, Matthias has taken his turn. Top of the lineup! The southernmost guards withdraw from the hippos' jaws, while two of their comrades assume defensive positions to cover their escape. The wounded man lies still as his life's blood pours forth.
Those engaged with the other hippo attack with new resolve.
Scimitar: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 61d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
A single guard manages to land her blade at the hippopotamus's shoulder, leaving a wound that causes the creature to roar. The others' blades slip and glance off the terrible wet hide.
NPC Status (DM ONLY):
River Guard 1: -4 HP
North Hippo: 19 HP
South Hippo: 50 HP
Bathos is up!
I'm already liking how Matthias handles himself and prioritizes. I knew you were gonna do some awesome kineticist stuff, but I wasn't sure whether it would be an awesome utility thing to save the drowning guy or an awesome combat thing to save the guards. He's taking charge, he's delegating. I dig it :).
The four guards shout assent and break into a run, forming a loose circle around their comrades near the southern beast. They begin to set themselves for combat in formation, speaking words of encouragement to their nervous fellows, who snap to and regain their forgotten discipline.
Bathos's turn. He's nimble, so he can easily leap over/past the people fleeing if he wants to charge.
I like it a lot! One thing I'm wondering is whether this will require some kind of special ritual or implement (e.g., even mundane adventurers take a rank in Spellcraft and carry a dowsing rod) or it's just in the nature of magic (e.g., if you pause a moment and pay attention, you can feel the subtle pulses of magic, like the nigh-ultrasonic whine of a silent television or the hum of quiescent machinery). I ask because the latter ruling slightly alters magical metaphysics. The former is cool, though :).
As for healing, dog slobber away if that seems within character :).