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Gavriil watches in silence as Kaalib emerged from the cave and told them how it was going to be. How many had they lost along this journey into the Stolen Lands? Maybe that was the true reason they were called the Stolen Lands. They weren't lands that were stolen from one king or another, but lands that stole something from the people in them. They took friends and family from those who inhabit them.
This. RP level = master class. This is why I love this game and this group.
Kaalib's voice cuts through the discussion like a knife. Stangely silent through this whole ordeal, when he finally speaks, it is with authority. The small dragon-accountant isn't looking at you, he's staring straight ahead at the cave entrance.
"This is my responsibility." He turns his body only slightly, but his eyes never leave the entrance. "Thank you for your concern for me and my wishes, but this has always been the way it has to be. I must go and face Chief Sootscale."
He holds up a small claw to stop your protest. "They will never accept you. That is not our way. For a kobold, the strong lead, and the weak follow...or perish. I had hoped that I could make them see...make them understand..." His head drops with a sigh. "But now I see that if I wish to save them, I must assume the chieftainship. And to do that, I must kill the Chief."
There is a long pause. The chill evening breeze blows softly over the long grass on the knoll where you stand. Kaalib sighs again.
"Do not follow me. Do not attempt to help. You will only make things worse, and many of my people will be slain in the chaos that will follow." He takes a few steps forward, then stops and turns, a sardonic smile on his face.
"I understand Magna now," he says softly, "I see her pain. Did not Asha say 'you can take the woman out of Brevoy, but you can't take the Brevoy out of the woman'? The same goes for dwarves...and kobolds." And with that he strides purposefully toward the cave, disappearing in the darkness of the entrance.
It seems an eternity, standing on top of the rise waiting for your friend to return. There is no sound, save the rustle of the grass, and stamp of an impatient horse. Then a small figure emerges; first one, then two, then six or more kobolds. They gather at the entrance, but if they see you, they do not give any indication. They watch the cave entrance, waiting. The whole group is packed and carrying gear as if for a long journey. Soon, another figure appears. It is Kaalib, carrying a large sack.
He winces as he presents the bag to Talia. "Don't." He says, to anyone coming to help him, although he is obviously in pain. "They must not see that I am hurt, or they will try their hand at taking me down. They are not strong, and I'd be forced to kill them." He smiles weakly. "I will be fine. Here. This is for you. I have kept enough for us. We will be leaving the Greenbelt. I hope to get another start for us, although it may take a generation or so to change their...our...ways." He looks at each of you in turn. "Thank you my friends. Farewell." Kallib turns and waves his arm. The kobolds that remain move off in a line north, fading into the night.
There is a silence as you contemplate the situation before you. The weight of rule hangs heavy on your shoulders: who knew that the decisions to be made could be so difficult. Much easier to write sardonic plays in the theater, or go drinking and carousing at the local taverns! Even harvest season on the farm seems to be a walk in the park compared to this.
Still, the responsibility is yours. You have taken on this mantle, and there are hundreds of people counting on you.
That thought alone draws your plight into stark relief:
It's not just about you anymore.
Female Chiss Soldier/Commando Wounds 18/18 Strain 13/13 Defense 0 SV 5 Cool GY Vigilance GG
Kara, sitting in the gunner's seat, grinds her teeth. '...doesn't ANYONE have have ANY comms discipline? would a 'copy' or an 'over' kill anyone around here?...'
Old habits die hard, but some were just so ingrained in her that she couldn't let them go...
Couldn't help myself.
Edric halts at Talia's words, turning to her with a quizzical look on his face. He takes a step forward to peek around the corner to his left, and catches a hint of movement from the rocks on his right!
Twisting desperately in the narrow tunnel to get his shield in front of him, the armed figure in front of him is...himself. Cautiously, he reaches out with his warhammer. He is stopped by the same unseen wall that bounced the coin. His image wavers as he touches it...a mirror! Two of them in fact, angled just so, to catch the reflections of something down the hall and make it appear as if it stood in the corner with the rocks. With a grin, he turns back to the others and shrugs.
Female Chiss Soldier/Commando Wounds 18/18 Strain 13/13 Defense 0 SV 5 Cool GY Vigilance GG
'...wait...what? Tonitran jerky???'
Kara's ears perk up at the mention of the Tonitran jerky. One of the things every soldier knew was a good jerky, and Tonitran was the best. Once in a while someone would get some, usually on the sly, and shared it with the rest of the unit. It was one of the rare moments of joy when you were in theater on an Op.
She ambles over and grabs a packet of the jerky. She pulls her knife from its sheathe on her shoulder and slices the top off of the vac-sealed bag. The smile on her face is as broad as her ears as she moves back over to her bunk while pulling a long piece of the jerky and tearing off a piece in her teeth. Kara stretches out, feet up on her helmet, eyes closed and savoring the stuff.
It's a long time before anyone can get anything out of her....
When I was an infantryman in the Army, a good jerky was as good as gold. I can relate to this situation.
The 'Talia in front' thing is cracking me up. Funny thing is, I didn't add that 3rd pit especially for her. I was waiting for one of you Dexy-types to do that jump...
I once ran a Dark Heresy Campaign where one player made an Imperial Scholar. The guy had no combat skills but played him with his little laspistol in the front line, blasting away. I forget the character's name but we called him Conan the Librarian. He died climbing out a window of a Hive Spire, two miles up from the planet's surface...
This reminds me of Conan the Librarian, for some reason. ;)
I don't post specific Initiatives once I roll for the order, makes things go too slow. I use post order for the most part. There's advantages and disadvantages to both ways of doing it.
Will save: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
The Lonely King tilts his head back, clawing at his empty eyes sockets as the Glitterdust spell blinds him. GRVMTAR slams the blinded king, cracking bone. Vosil's whip entwines his legs as he staggers, and drops him prone just as Dregan's arrows fly by!
Edric lashes out, dealing a significant hit on him. While Magna's axe sends splinters on the prone form!
The skeleton lashes out with a bony claw, rage consuming him! All to no effect, as he cannot overcome being prone and blind.
"NOOOoooo..." He howls in frustration as he can't shake the effects of Naralesh's spell.
ROUND THREE: you are up. Lonely King: AC 17/9/13 hp 21/85; Glitterdust for the win! Elementals (flank), Magna (flank), Edric (flank), Vosil, Talia in range to srike. Dregan add +4 to AC for him being prone.
"Arigato, Tomaru-san." Amieko says with a slight bow of the head and a smile. Never one for the formalities of her father and his Tien heritage, that is all the busy woman will give you at this time.
Even though they don't know the newcomers, the crowd is only slightly less enthusiastic about Kellen, Thordak, and Aurora. "Friends of thems is friends of ours..." is a common comment. Soon enough, you are seated at the main table while the crowd plies you for tales of your doings while you've been away. Ameiko brings out her best: spiced curry salmon, honey-baked red potatoes, and drink...lots of drink.
Assuming you share your adventures...
The crowd is 'all in' with you as you regale them. 'Oohs' in disbelief at the depredations of Aldern Foxglove, shudder with the description of the Manor, and sit in rapt silence during the battle of the Clocktower. Several hours in, and if anything more people have come in to the Dragon to hear. The crowd laughs at stories of the gnomes in Whistledown, gasp in shock at the horrors of the Graul homestead, and weep as Myriana leaves Whitewillow forever. When the tale finally ends, nearly everyone in town seems to be here: Sheriff Hemlock, Father Zantus, Mayor Deverin, even Shalelu - seated in the corner with her boots up on the table - gives you a nod and a smile.
Then everyone goes silent as Ameiko moves to the front of the main room, her lyre in hand. "By your leave..." she begins, although everyone knows that when Ameiko plays at the Rusty Dragon, she needs no permission..."I will sing you a lay: The Rise of the Runelords."
Local legend holds that Ameiko uses some magical means to enhance her music, and you find it hard to refute as you are carried off by her song. Even though you are the heroes of the lay, it's as if you are hearing the story for the first time. From that first day in Sandpoint to the fall of Barl Breakbones, Ameiko weaves an epic saga of the rise and fall of heroes. Enthralled, you come to only to realize her final stanzas leave the saga open, because she knows - as you do - that this tale is far from over...
'So where doth the future lie,
'To our heroes we must turn at need,
Event Roll: 1d100 ⇒ 12
The stars are cold and bright in the night skies at the end of the month. For four nights, a glorious meteor shower tears across the skies over Concord. This is seen as a sign from heaven, and Morale soars in the County.
+1 for all Stability rolls until the next event phase.
It's a busy lunch crowd at the Dragon when you finally stable the horses and head in. The heavy oaken door swings wide, letting fresh air and light into the main room. The crowd blinks in the light, trying to make out the newcomers in the glare. Then the door swings closed and the first patrons recognize you.
"It's them! They're back!"
The crowd surges to you, vigorous thumps on the back and hearty cries of welcome all around. After all you've been through, this is a welcome change. Clearly the heroes of Sandpoint have returned.
Over the din, this woman sidles up to you, making her way with ease through the crowd. "Over here. Take my best table, nothing but the best for the returning conquerors, eh?" She motions to a large round table in front of the fireplace. With a wink and a coy smile, she disappears back toward the kitchen.
Never underestimate the need for a meathead with an axe. Many players tend towards obscure builds of archetypes they've always wanted to play. The meathead is becoming a rare character these days.
That said, you can have quite a bit of fun with that type. I present to you Thordak Ironheart, dwarf barbarian; from one of my games:
As the ghost fades and the bear takes his leave, Thordak can be seen rubbing his watery, red eyes with his sleeve. "Blasted allergies. I can't go anywhere."
Thordak looks curiously upon Lym as she talks about traveling through 'Shadow'. "Now, lass, this 'Shadow' business, it's not gonna leave us stuck in the Plane of Shadow, is it?" Just after he lets out that last bit, he looks around at the others confidently, a proud expression upon him. "Bet you lot didn't know I knew about the Plane of Shadow, did ya? Huh? Huh? I thought not. Oh I know, I know ALL about the Plane of Shadow I do. Well... maybe not know all about it; it's possible I've heard all about it. Okay, okay, it's possible I may have overheard all about it, okay?" He looks to them all a long moment before, "Or maybe I just heard it in passing BUT THE FACT REMAINS:" he states adamantly, a finger in the air as he looks back to Lym, "Are we gonna get stuck in the Plane of Shadow? Because I just don't want to, lass! I don't know what ta do there!" he exclaims with a shrug. "I've never been! Can ya breathe? Can ya eat? Can ya... breathe?" he asks with near panic in his voice.
No way Gav is gonna top me on drinking songs, so...
The dwarves sing along with Gavrill, belting out the words everyone knows to the classic 'Miss Andoran Pie'. Then they begin with a well-known tavern song of their own:
'What do you do with a drunken miner, what do you do with a drunken miner, what do you with a drunken miner deep down in mine shaft...'
'Put 'im in the mine cart with 'is bottle, put 'im in the mine cart with 'is bottle, put 'im in the mine cart with 'is bottle, deep down in the mine shaft...'
'Shove 'im down the track 'til he heaves over, shove 'im down the track 'til he heaves over, shove 'im down the track 'til he heaves over, deep down in the mine shaft...'
The drinking and singing goes on until the wee hours, and the sun comes up way too early. And bright. Way too bright. But the dwarves are busy working, and are none-too friendly in their hungover state, so you set out for Concord having done good work.
He then begins to play the only tavern song he could remember in his addled state that contained dwarves, "And they were singing: Byyyyye Bye Miss Androan Piiiie! Drove my wagon from the dragon and the dragon flew high! Them good'ole dwarves were drinkin' whiskey and rye! Sayyyyin'.... uhh... somethin' somethin' Gav's a good guy! Somthin' somethin' Gav's a good guy!"
Are you friggin' kidding me?? Awesome!
Thinking on it, if we roll round by round, this will take forever. So here we go.
The mugs begin to flow, as fast as you can down them. With every finished mug, Barod and Gaerd clash their silver family tankards together with a ring.
Fort save DC10: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (16) + 9 = 25 +1 S
And now Edric
Somewhere around the sixth full tankard, Gaerd reaches out to smash his mug into his brothers and misses! His momentum carries him straight on to the dirt floor of the tent, face first under the table. It only takes a second to find him, but by then deep snores are vibrating the benches you're sitting on.
"Well I'll be a orc's uncle!" Barod exclaims. "Never did thought ye could do it, lad. But then Gaerd's always been a bit of a lightweight! A deal's a deal, lad. Ye can count on the Brighthammers as part of Fairhaven!"
He leans in to Gavriil to whisper. "make sure ye keep the ale flowin' laddie. keeps me lads workin'!"
Was just waiting for Nara.
The Brighthammer brothers go through two ales each while they listen to first Gavriil, then Naralesh, talk.
"Tell ye what, lad." Barod says to Gavriil. "Let's do this the right way. If'n one of you can beat me brother in a drinking contest, we'll agree ta be citizens in Fairhaven. Win...we're in. Lose and we go about our business without you."
He takes a deep draft and smiles as he lowers his mug. He looks at Gaerd, reaching out to clash his silver mug with that of his sibling.
This will be a straightforward series of Fort saves with an increasing DC per round. First one to pass 5 saves wins, or first one to fail 3 loses. Feel free to discuss before you accept, and float out any ideas that you may want to try to tip the scales in your favor. Obvious spellcasting would be seen in a dim light.
Dwarves. Gotta love 'em.
EDIT: Looking through some backgrounds, I could be convinced to give Edric an additional +2 to his Fort for resistance to imbibed toxins - just this one contest.
"Indeed." Darrick says, agreeing with Asha. " No sooner did we get established as a government to do 'something different', we went right to Brevic politics when a situation presented itself."
"Not a proud moment." He sighs deeply. "I don't know Vosil or his history. I can only assume that his reaction was from a bad experience with politicians. I - we - would ask that we are treated with the same respect and dignity that you would treat each other. We will do the same. And as Asha said, there is no way to completely take the Brevoy out of us. We will speak our minds based on that. We only ask for a fair and equal voice in the Council."
Series of posts coming up, wait for it...
Asha and Kesten look to Darrick. The man looks at Talia for brief second, then rests his elbows on the table, hands clasped.
"Ah. That. As I am sure you are aware, Milady, there were - words - spoken in the Council chamber. Under normal circumstances, I could not let such words go without response - defense of my honor and all that." He takes a quick look at Vosil.
"But I came here to get away from such foolishness. I came to Concord to be something else, something more, than a Brevic politician."
He leans back in his chair. "Foolish hope, maybe. But I thought that a quick exit to let cooler heads prevail was in order."
"In my desire to let things cool down, I made a rash decision. For that I apologize."
Magna stops as Kaalib calls her, but does not turn around. When he finishes, she mounts her horse and rides out of Concord.
The light behind the doorway casts the approaching figure in silhouette; but you can tell he is tall, wiry and has a smooth gate. As he crosses over threshold, his simple brown garb: boots, trousers, and vest mark him as common man. But his grin is anything but. With a smirk on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, he looks up.
"Hullo Talia. Nice digs."
The Scoundrel of the Greenbelt has returned.
The sage Encarta has documented many cases of barrows and cairns dotted throughout the River Kingdoms. Petty kinglets, barbarian conquerors, and countless others have lived and died in this region, leaving their mark in forgotten tombs.
A certain mark along the first flagstone you can see tells you a bit more: there is a legend of a place called The Lonely Barrow. It is the final resting place of an ancient barbarian warlord. His name is lost to history, but legend holds that he was laid to rest along with his loyal guardsmen. As is all too common, the greedy brother who succeeded him coveted the warlord's magic weapon, and kept it for himself. Angered at this blasphemy and the desecration of his remains, the warlord’s spirit rose as an undead menace not long after. He sought out the treacherous brother, and although the stolen weapon became broken in the fight that followed, the undead warlord succeeded in killing the brother and returned to this cairn with his reclaimed weapon; he has stood eternal guard over his tomb ever since.
There is a note scribbled in the margin of the Chronicle:
'...could be anything in there...'
"NO!" Magna retorts to Talia, a bit too sharply.
"No. Milady." She says, correcting herself. "You don't understand. The Forge Father teaches us to stand up and face our enemy. To protect our people in a straightforward way. I...have deviated."
The dwarf paladin drops her hands to her belt, gripping the haft of her axe. Her knuckles turn white with frustration. "But I am not working to change things for the betterment of the people. I am working to change them for myself."
"I have desired to rule for myself. I have compromised with one of my people's greatest enemies. I have wished violence on my own people because of the desire for power! I have...loved..." She speaks this last softly, with a sidelong glance at Edric. "In a word...I am...soft." She whispers. "Not the steel edge of the axe forged on the anvil of Torag."
There is a long silence.
"I will go north. Join the next band of crusaders bound for Mendev. They use the Sellen as a route to join Queen Galfrey's armies there. I need to re-forge my very soul, and I will go to the greatest such forge on Golarion."
"I am going to the Worldwound."
From the doors to the Council chamber, Magna's voice breaks into your discussion.
"I..." she begins, her voice as unsure and wavering as you have ever heard her, "I..I have to leave" she stammers, her eyes downcast.
"I'm afraid I have been tested. And found wanting. My faith, my race, everything I thought I was." She looks up, and it is obvious she has been crying. "For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to bring the word of Torag and the might of his hammer to the unjust. I've known that my part in life was to forge the bonds of community that he teaches." She looks down again.
"I do not think I am worthy."
The great worg flashes by, taking hits as he charges. But his days of hunting the Kamelands are ended by Tali's precise strike, and his furred bulk tumbles to a halt just short of where Dregan stands. The last worgs let out a terrified yelp, and and dash off into the night.
Combat over, Vosil's great rug acquired. Hex (D6?) explored.
I suppose neither Naralesh nor I fully understands nobles yet. Talia, this is your stage.
Indeed, nobility is a very odd thing. Think of an ultra-exclusive club, that you have no way joining unless by birth. You and your club are better than everyone, save those in the club with a better lineage. But you ALL are better than everyone else. And you fight tooth and nail to protect that. AND that's ingrained from birth.
Even your NPCs will have a hard time giving that up. They need a new club - and that's you all.
YES! You want to know where I was going? This. This. THIS! Crisis arises, leaders say: 'Hey let's talk. Everyone (not in the Council) sit down and shut up (sorta) until we figure it out.' Excellent! Most astonishing wonderful! (my inner hobbit) You're going to need this in the future. I've read the books, trust me.
Talia and Kaldrukth dispatch the worg on her. Dregan slays another - the one threatening Naralesh.
Need Edric to go in ROUND TWO still. He is prone. All of the worgs are evil, Edric.
Status Update: Magna is prone, a worg on her. Edric is prone, worg on him. Talia, Naralesh, Dregan are free of attackers. Vosil has a worg, but it is blind. Howls-in-the-Hills is up on the edge of dell and waiting. He is 40' away.
Howls-in-the-Hills is a cunning hunter. Full of tricks and surprises, he has stalked these lands for a generation. So with a snarl and a howl, the pack breaks upon you from the west, where he played the echoes against you.
Two worgs are on Edric in a flash, fangs flashing in the firelight. Their bite draws blood, and the paladin is overborne by their rush. -12 hp, Edric, you are prone.
bite: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27 crit: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9 dmg: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
bite: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
The rest of the pack attacks, one worg for each of you. Only Magna's skill at teamwork saves you, keeping you from being totally surprised.
att Talia: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
These worgs are dynamite!
The worgs come on in a rush, and the party goes down under their savage attack. Only Talia manages to duck under her assailant and remain standing. She looks up to see the silhouette of a huge worg lined against the night sky, staring down into the dell.
NOTE: Everyone is hit and prone except Talia. Please note the damage you took, I rolled it above. You may take AoOs as they trip you, based on the Lookout Feat (you can act in the surprise round). Then you are up for ROUND ONE.