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As soon as the bottle hits the ground, Leth's eyes well with tears and he winces, looking like all he has left in the world was taken from him. Considering the circumstances, its not that far from the truth.
He responds rapidly in goblin to what Mogwai says.
"Tribe not strong, tribe dead. Leth all that still here. Leth chief now. Leth weak. Talks-with-fist make strong, now gone too. Leth have no one to lead for vengeance. You chase those who kill talks-with-fist, you lose your tribe too."
The hobgoblin bends for a moment, lifting Talks-With-Fist's body up slightly so what is left of him really shows and speaks in his broken common, the tears coming down his face again. "This all left from strong, this blood. You thirst more?"
That is one thing to consider when it comes to things like assistants or cohorts or even in situations where combat spills out to civilians. Remember that there is no raise dead or resurrection in this world, even if your group has a certain exception to that. If someone else gets struck down, even at higher level, they stay down.
Leth is a pretty open thing for you guys, with the tribe gone he is fairly aimless. He can try and join the other tribe, though with his own failings that could be trouble. But at this point, he is pretty unaware of the greater events outside of the trouble with his people, so at this point he isn't really pushing for anything on his own, he's just trying to deal with what is in front of him.
Leth slowly rises up to his feet and moves quietly, almost roboticly to the other tents, seeing the extent of the loss before finally stepping over to the supply tent and coming out with a bottle. His eyes are red, but for being such a slacker as a guard he obviously has seen enough of death that he is compartmentalizing it quickly. He takes a drink from the bottle and then speaks in his poor common. "What you do?"
Brutus scouts the outskirt of the small valley, beyond the camp area you can find obvious hobgoblin prints that come and go and haven't been wiped away, but he doesn't see any other prints that would give an idea of the attackers.
Knowledge Arcana 17:
The spell tied to the text having an aura of conjuration is an odd thing. Most glyph or spells tied to language are abjuration. Without getting into higher end spells, the only one that you could think of would be a sepia snake sigil.
Hopefully this quote from Gary makes you feel a little better anyway Mogwai, and it sounds like they are planning another update down the line to take it further.
Gary Teter wrote:
Yeah, apparently they have done a pretty massive update to the site as a whole and are still ironing out all the bugs. Looks like the fixed the OOC/spoiler formatting ones between when I checked my phone and looked on the comp.
In the website feedback thread where they talk about it, they have said they are in the process of fixing the spacing issues and the like, and the slow performance of the site should be picking up as the maintenance gets finalized and they rebuild their cache.
Mogwai, someone brought up a question because a style sheet they made wasn't working and one of the coders mentioned that as part of this update they unified and cleaned up a lot of class names and legitimately took care of a lot of patchwork jury rigs they had to make on the fly over the years, so hopefully it will be looking better now.
There don't appear to be any evil auras in the nearby area.
You don't find any magical glows on the outskirts, but there is a fading magic aura on the text of the parchment. It appears to be a conjuration aura, but it is quite weak now. If the spell was tied to the words, smudging them probably disrupted it.
Going to post this since you all have time to take in the camp, but then I'm going to slow a little to let the other players catch up.
Moving so you can see inside of the tent Leth moved into, you find him on his knees holding a young hobgoblin's limp form. Several other's lay within the tent, still wrapped in their bedding, the dirt around them pooled with thickened blood from deep blade wounds.
The other tents hold more of the same, the various members of the tribe accounted for. Beside the guards, Talks-With-Fist is the only one who is found outside of his bedroll, having crawled several feet leaving a blood trail behind him. Laying beside him is a sheet of parchment, hastily torn open breaking the seal upon it. Words are scrawled upon it in a neat and careful hand, though there is a smear of blood across it badly smudging the lettering. The blood carries its own message, though it is a much more simplistic "NO"
The smudged text is difficult to read, smudged as it is with the blood but it is in beautifully written handwriting. "Your interference will only bring loss. What will you leave, what will you give up to chase us?"
The hobgoblin died very quickly and was obviously poisoned before being propped in place, probably about a day before.
There aren't any obvious tracks around, even hobgoblin, its likely they were covered up.
You aren't sure who put the traps, but they seem to be placed within the campsite rather than just at its perimeter.
Mogwai, I'm going to use the perception check you made above since I already posted a spoiler for it. It sounds like most of you are moving down there, so I'm going to post the same idea out of spoiler.
As the goblin slows and begins to advance more cautiously with those staying close by he is able to make his way to the hobgoblin guard standing by the tree without interference, though once he gets within a few feet Mogwai barely avoids stepping on a beartrap covered loosely with dirt to disguise it. A more careful look reveals a handful more of the traps scattered around the campsite.
The closer view of the hobgoblin guard shows splatter of blood upon the bark of the tree he leans against, the dark fletching of a quarrel visable from his throat just beneath his jaw.
As the body is inspected, Leth has advanced towards the tents and you can hear him give a cry and run inside the nearest.
Leth nods at Mogwai's words, starting to turn and move down the slope before he seems to remember part of his job was to ensure you stuck to the bargain and didn't bring trouble to the tribe. He hurries over and looks in the baskets of goods, just giving a cursory examination grabbing a piece of food and stuffing it into his mouth before turning and motioning for you to follow as he walks down the hill. As he sets off at a quick pace, obviously looking forward to the benefits of meeting up with his tribe and perhaps regaining the chief's trust, he points at a hill several slopes over.
"Tribe is over there, out of sight. Not too far."
Its perhaps an hours walk to where the goblin indicates, cresting the small hilltop you can see a small bowl shaped recess formed where the crowns of several hills are near each other. From the top of the hill you can see a handful of tents gathered in a small circle. It doesn't look like the tribe is expecting much trouble here as the only two hobgoblins you see are on opposite ends of the small valley, on leaning against a tree, the other laying back beneath one.
The valley is small, just about 50 ft across. There are trees and thin brush peppered around it, but none of it is very lively and there isn't much in the way of leaves to worry about cover.
Perception DC 19:
The guards don't just seem to be unalert, they actually look to be fully immobile.
I think that things got jumbled up since my post had pre-empted Mogwai's and then we got into our big discussion of goods and everyone is waiting for a translation. I'm going to redo part of my post a bit just so we are all on the same page.
Having made your way out of the outskirts of town and up onto the hill that was to be the meeting place to send word to the hobgoblins, you find Leth sleeping beneath one of the few scraggly trees with his eyes covered. On your approach, he sits up and blinks at you, rubbing his head as if its achey.
"Ahh! Friends! Talks-With-Fists wasn't sure you come. I told him you keep bargain. You bring drink? Talks-With-Fist still angry, not let me have and head hurts."
The words in the other language are accompanied with a drinking motion and some poor common as he stands up. "Glad come. Bring to tribe. Have drink?"
To be fair, we are already pretty far off script since the campaign certainly doesn't expect you to end up being particularly friendly with the hobs. But that is one of the things I enjoy about the campaign is that it is so sandbox, I can keep track of the progression of events as they would happen over time and adapt them based on your intervention. I don't need to worry about something you are doing hurting the story, just know the enemies motivation and capability at different points and the effort it takes to accomplish their goals/the process they need to go through for them.
I like having that kind of open freedom in a game while still having a solid plot in a published form. I'm the sort who normally totally changes up and modifies APs anyway, so having it built for that kind of freedom and seeing where the players will go is ideal.
I'm going to give a little metagaming info here, but I'm going to be being the badguy in the story coming up here shortly and some of these plans are going to get disrupted, so don't worry about spending a bunch of time on this. It was much more how much gets spent and just for practice on skills that will be helpful in the future(sort of like getting used to juggling politics and loyalties in the city which is small and going to be left soon is good practice for larger world events), rather than for needing to know exactly what they have.
As said, my biggest worry was to know what kind of money you are spending and to have us getting some practice dealing with other factions. Go ahead and post forward with the game play, we don't need to get too hung up on the finer details. Knock off the cash and we are good to go, I wasn't looking to hold us up so long on this.
I love all the details you guys are putting into it, saying like 30gp on food goods and 10gp on traveling supplies would be plenty of info to cover that. I'm already going to be a badguy on this one, plus once we start getting to higher level its likely that you will be dealing with various organizations(or starting your own during downtime) and so its good practice to be able to say things like 'I'm putting this much money towards equipment', or training or whatever so I have an idea of what the growth will be like. If there is a specific thing you are looking to pass along tell me, but it can be somewhat generic otherwise.
I see that you are one of those people who likes spreadsheets, whipping all that together certainly will be more useful than the word document I linked for everyone to use. I'll link to it in the campaign description so there is always a link easy access for you guys(It looks like you linked to it in your avatar summary too).
Good work on it.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Another issue with QTEs is that since they normally occur during points that would otherwise be handled by a cutscene, often times there is dialogue or other features of interest happening while you are playing them out. Having something that pulls attention away from that can easily have you miss things or puts the story elements to a sideline.
QTEs kind of mix the things that people dislike about cutscenes with the things they don't like about button mashing. Its hard to call most QTEs actual interactivity, its generally trying to follow a pattern or a rhythm rather which is better at taking me out of the game than bringing me in. A good interactive mechanic makes you feel like you are in the characters shoes, lockpicking mechanics tend to do a good job of this in games where rotating the sticks feels like you are lining up the picks. Hitting X a bunch to open a window, or tapping buttons in a pattern to do a stealth kill just feels like busy work instead of either having a real mechanic to let you play out the scene or simply enjoy the story they are presenting in the moment.
Morton tries to offer a hopeful smile, chiming in "Maybe the fact that we stopped using the mine because we seemed better at bringing it down on our heads than getting minerals out of the ground will finally serve us well. I'll pick out some workers and see how we can set them to disable all we can personally while the mayor and father Bronson let people know what is going on, then we'll set off for the other villages."
Before everyone makes it out the door, Morton moves over and clasps each of your arms, one after the other. "I don't know if I'll see you again, but we all will make it to Saragost. Thank you for all you have done for us."
As you start to shuffle out, the sheriff simply gives you a respectful nod of his head, his brain still racing, though he taps the table by the mayor snapping him out of his reverie. "Come, we all have work to do."
It sounds like the overall plan is to stop and stock up on supplies and then move to the place you had intended to meet the hobgoblin to send word to the others.
Making your way out of town, it is late in the afternoon and the sun has just begun to set by the time you reach the hill south of the mine where you were told that the hobgoblin would be waiting for you.
While not barren like the mined out hill, there isn't a great deal of foliage on the slope, but there are some bushes and trees scattered about. On the very top of the hill, beneath a sad little leafy tree, Leth lays, his head resting against the bark and an arm draped across his eyes to shield them from the light.
When he hears footsteps approaching, the hobgoblin sits up with a wince, slightly reddened eyes squinting.
"Ahh! Friends! Talks-With-Fists wasn't sure you come. I told him you keep bargain. You bring drink? Talks-With-Fist still angry, not let me have and head hurts."
What kind of cash are you putting into your hob-fund?
No problem Vorik, take your time.
Brutus, gun powder and the like do exist in this world so that is a solid plan. However, it is a somewhat rare thing mostly used by the dwarves or the more wealthy countries that can afford to trade with it or have a hefty enough military/navy to account for it. Its unlikely that this village will have access to any, though the possibility of collapsing the tunnel/damaging the lift can be done other ways and may even be safer since they won't be doing it in the dark where those with better eyes would have the advantage.
Going to let some of the others chime in before I answer anymore via NPC, but Mogwai, since there hasn't been any word going out to the village yet Mother Bailey's store is still open and available- After you saved the kids she will sell to you at normal cost rather than her normal markup. You can be somewhat generic in what you want to pick up, just like 'I want to spend 50gp on food, or camping supplies' or whatever type of stuff you want to get for the tribe.
Aetherni, is your proposal for you guys to go to the cave and try and wall up the door, or to have townspeople do it for you? We are at a point where you guys get to start making bigger scale decisions for what you are doing so it is totally up to you. Davan will disagree pretty strongly with the former, all about speed of the mission at this point, and feels the latter risks more lives than it may help, but will send people to try and block the door until the town is ready to leave if you think it is for the best.
Sorry, way wordy.
Morton looks rather pleased at the proposal of alerting some of the locals, though Davan frowns a bit. "If anyone is to be saved, Saragost must be told. They must be convinced and have time to prepare. In the best of circumstances, it is a three day ride, following the road. Add to that time to convince the various people along the way that we aren't just raving mad and we are pressing our timetable to give Saragost any sort of warning, even if the note is fresh and we have ten days before this army is prepared. I can't picture that there is time veering all over the island. As more learn, more can spread the word, but we can only hope they will be believed."
He puts his head in his hands for a moment, swearing softly. "Bloody hell. We do need to split our attention, but Saragost hearing of this and actually believing it has to be our top priority. The council needs prepare, without that it doesn't matter who knows. If someone was killed in town by our enemy, who knows what their agents will be capable of or if they will be watching for messengers."
Frowning, he looks over each of you one after the other, thinking. "You have proven your worth, even while being questioned. You have gotten no love in our village, and it is wrong to put this weight on you, but I can think of no one else I can trust with taking word to the council. We can supply you with horses and give you the scroll and of course we would hope you can tell who you can on the way, but please ensure it is delivered."
By this point it is clear that the mayor is almost locked up in shock, remaining quiet as the sheriff takes more full control, directing even the headsman in this time of trouble. "I can't leave the townspeople, there is going to be chaos here when they learn and we need to keep control of that. Jim looks to order others around, well I will give him his chance. If it frees you to take a more direct road, the mayor, the father and Morton will go west and talk to as many of the villages as they can. The lad can look after them and the other two are good with words. I wish I had more to offer, but I can promise we will do our part as best we can. It is we who need you now."
As Mogwai references the hobgoblins, Davan at least gives the respect of not seeming to assume they have some part in this, though he tries to be a bit pragmatic. "You have earned our trust to do what you need, you know the urgency of this mission as well as any. We will gather you horses while you prepare, but... Whatever loyalty you may have is not something I question, but right now every effort has meaning, make sure you use yours to the best of your ability. Even if your people, Saragost isn't going to let them into their walls. You may be able to save more other ways."
Lichgate is a town, nothing particular about it. Big enough to not just be a village, but not major either. Lower Scumsgrove is the second largest town on the island after Saragost, so should probably stand out a little more on the map.
The colors on the map primarily just denote different regions. Regionally, the center of the island and the area around Saragost are mostly farmland. The eastern side of the island(and the area around Vannondale) are hills. The western side of the island is lightly forested, and the area around Churney-on-the-green is dense forest.
Making a few small assumptions just so I can bring the NPCs together so you can get into the discussion and figure out what you are going to do, if any of these are wrong, like you wouldn't let the sheriff see the scroll or hand over the prisoner, let me know and we will adjust.
While waiting for the others, Davan frowns a bit at Brutus' question. "I think you have a rather high view of Jim's military experience. He was a grunt down in Saragost and did a little mercenary work. Bossing around those thugs is the closest experience he has to tactics or leadership. If there is some sort of focused attack, holding the town isn't in the cards. The only real choice is to fall back to Saragost and hope its walls and troops can face the enemy, least until some sort of reinforcements arrive. The Eagle Nations have always been friendly to us and may give aid."
Morton clearly takes Brutus' advice and runs, and its likely the priest does as well with how quickly Father Bronson gets to the guardhouse. Even the mayor is there within a few short minutes, the deputy must have expressed the urgency of the situation. Once they are inside, the Sheriff gives a quick rundown of what he has learned, that you have uncovered some sort of evidence of a possible invasion from a cavern beneath the mine and he needs the priest to help read the document you discovered, motioning to the prisoner now in a nearby cell.
As the scroll is read, the three look at each other and try and take it all in. The Mayor is the first to speak up as he says simply "We must evacuate." Morton frowns, adding "It will take days to put together supplies for the trip and get everyone together. We need to alert other towns. Not just alert them, but make sure they believe us. Make sure they get to safety too. They can't wait for us to get there."
The mayor and Morton begin to argue over the merits of self-preservation vs getting word to as many other people on the island as possible, Davan moves to a dresser and returns with a map of the island, setting it on his desk and studying it thoughtfully.
Take care of yourself and I wish you all the best with your surgery, hopefully everything goes as well as possible and you are feeling top of your game quickly.
Don't worry about rushing anything, look after your health and make sure you are feeling alright before you worry about us, we'll be alright here.
No problem, Mogwai, just didn't want you to think you were getting skipped over.
And its Davan, Aetherni. My jumbled brain's fault. When I had the flu recently I played back through KotOR and there is a big NPC named Davik and I apparently combined their names in my head.
The drow's words make the sheriff quirk a brow a bit and tilt his head, slowing his step slightly. "An extraplanar army coming through some magic door, to our little town? I think you've been reading Morton's books again. Let me at this scroll, let us go to the guard house where we have some light."
Glancing over to Morton he calls "Fetch the Mayor boy, and you'd best get the priest too in case he can decipher this."
Assuming you were/are now heading to the guard house, there isn't anything stopping you from getting there, so feel free to start your explanation.
The sheriff stops in his tracks for a moment at that, his head tilting so his eyes can follow as the group marches past him. "What the devil are you talking about, invasion? Morton says you went to check out a bloody hole in the ground."
He starts to hurry along with you, though he only makes it a few more steps before he pauses again. "The Caldrazans? They have wanted us since we broke free, but never been so gutsy as to land a force, they know that wouldn't stand. And why the hells would they land here, we're in the back-end of nowhere, ain't like Saragost is going to surrender the island over our loss and starting at the opposite end of the island just means they'll have plenty of time to nestle in behind their walls and gather stocks when the alert goes out. Can barely land a pinnacle on Chillhame without it being spotted, no less enough of a fleet to field an army. Saragost will see it coming and no sense in giving them time to prepare."
Walking once more with you, he squints down at the captive while trying to process the possibilities of what you have told him. "Whats with the dwarf? Undernell and the dwarves have always been tight with Caldraza, but I don't see them helping carry out a grudge and breaking treaties. They rely too much on trade and good graces to take part in a piddling squabble they have no place in."
Mogwai hasn't piped in yet, but it sounds like overall the agreement was to head back to town(and that had been his thought in his last post) so I'm going to run with that.
I covered the standout things the dwarf had on him, but I can give a complete list in case there is anything you want to take.
Heavy Steel Shield
Masterwork Artisan's Tools
Climbing your way back up through the tunnel, half carrying, half dragging the prisoner, he gives a snarl and further struggles as soon as he hits the sunlight, wincing as though the light pains him. Still, he is well enough restrained to be able to be moved without too much trouble.
As you approach the town, you can see two figures at the edge of the buildings, and as they come into clearer view you make out Davak and Morton. Davak is leaning against one of the structures, though Morton paces anxiously.
Once you get closer, the sheriff pushes off from the wall and looks you over with a quirked brow, his eyes glancing down towards the prisoner you are hauling with you. "Morton said you had quite a tale to tell, looks like he didn't know the half of it. Who is our friend here? He our murderer?"
As you push into the mostly abandoned buildings at the relative safety of the outskirts of town, the older of the two children starts to tug ahead with Morton who gives a glance back over his shoulder towards you all. "I'm going to hurry ahead to get the little ones folks and gather the sheriff, I'm sure the mayor will want to be involved too and informed about what is going on, fat lot of good that will do. I will meet you at the watch."
With that he lets Jeb begin to tug him forward, setting off at a jog with him into the center of town.
By the time you arrive at the guard post, light shines out from within the windows and you can hear bustle from within.
The door opens to a couple in their early thirties dressed in their night clothes holding the children close to their chests and crying happy tears. Sheriff Davan sits across from them at his desk and Morton stands behind the couple, occasionally ruffling a child's hair. Mayor Goodchild is wearing a nightshirt himself, though one of a much higher quality complete with a nightcap.
The mayor looks up to you with a quirked, brow, seeming to appraise each of you again curiously as you enter the building. The parents burst from their chairs, letting out rapid tear filled thanks that can barely be understood beneath the sobs as they squeeze their children closer.
Davan waits patiently for the hubub to die down, saying simply "The Blooms wanted to thank you personal-like for tracking down their little ones. Isn't every day we have some genuine heroics in our little town. But if you don't mind, I imagine that Jeb and Callum need to be getting to bed and I believe Morton has hinted that you have something rather important to discuss. Though this is something which should not be shared in front of small ears."
Sorry Vorik, I do intend to have you all go Mythic. I haven't quite decided how I wanted to handle the weapons yet, but Legendary is definitely something I have been juggling. Each starborn has a personalized item as well as some that are more generalized things made for the group as a whole. The campaign has a system laid out for advancing the items as you level, made to be generic enough that it can be adapted to whatever gear I may have associated with each of your characters, which I could carry over into pathfinder fairly easily if I wished and at that point you will be able to have a lot of customization choices over how your items work.
We have a few levels before the adaptability is going to kick in, so I figure I have some time to firmly decide. If I am going to make use of the legendary weapon rules that will kick in once you gain your first mythic level.
The doorway definitely glows with magic, with a number of different auras. The most powerful is a moderate abjuration glow, though there is also a weaker abjuration glow as well as a transmutation aura that is fading but still present.
Looking over the door slowly and carefully its seal is of impressive construction, the water that puddles on the ground of the chamber pools against the door but doesn't seem to have any cracks to drain through to the other side of the gate. The broad double doors open inwards towards the chamber and are clearly looked, but there is no sign of a keyhole either, the only oddity in the face of the stone beyond the embellished carvings is a small inset circle, about the size of a coin.
Drombar, doesn't affect anything in this instance since there wasn't too much to pick up with those other checks about the door anyway, but remember that taking 20 essentially is assuming that you make 20 attempts, that is why something that normally takes a round takes 2 full minutes. The idea is that you are rolling over and over again and in 20 attempts you probably would have gotten a 20. Works on perceptions since if you are diligent you can take your time and just keep looking at an area that is suspicious, but you can't use it on checks that are one and done, so knowledge checks and the like you either know or you don't. You can take 10 on any check as long as you aren't threatened if you don't want to risk a poor roll, but taking 20 requires no consequence for failure. Bards and some archetypes get abilities that let them take 20 on knowledges and linguistics.
The double door opens inwards, towards you. Presuming you test it, the door is sealed and you can't seem to drive a piton into it(though the floor is not so magically treated and you could feasibly drive some into the floor just before the door so it is blocked).
There is little in the way of gap around the door to wedge stone into, if you mean to look for small rocks to cram into the gaps to make it more difficult to open. If you mean to look for large rocks to pile in front of it, you would either need to chisel out something, or the rocks are either too large to reasonably move or about head size or smaller. Anything that could likely open this door wouldn't have too much trouble pushing aside smaller rocks. There are a lot of the smaller rocks available outside and up in the mineshaft from the tunnels being chiseled out, so if you want to take the duergars words to heart and stack rocks against the door to weigh it down it would just depend on how much time you are willing to devote to this.
The prisoner snorts at Aetherni's words, smirking slightly.
"I am not the Master Overseer. He prepares for the death that will sweep you all and were he here you would have found the doom you seek so swiftly. How foolish you must think me that you believe I would open our gate for you and walk into my brethren's hands as a betrayer. You waste your efforts on me and prying at the door, if a dwarf could pass the gate I would walk you to the overseer myself. We are not your ignorant sort who mindlessly stack rocks and hope they balance. Much more than stone holds that door."
Including navigating the hill, it was a couple hour walk to the mine, if you wanted to go to town and get back it would still be light out but later in the afternoon.
As described, there is the tunnel you came in, the stairs up to the mine and the immense doors that seem to be the only exits from this chamber.
From what you all could tell, the cloaked figure who fled down the hill was the person who was killed, and unless the dwarf had a different weapon, he wouldn't have been the assassin.
I realize it had been quite a while since we played that part, so I'm going to put out some some possibilities that could have triggered retaliation(most of which you have already covered) but just because stuff that is half a day for your characters has been 4 months for us.
You didn't see anyone else on the hill besides the hobgoblins and the cloaked man but there could have been other eyes on you.
The man might have seen something other than you, or simply the fact he was staking out the place for you may have brought the assumption he did.
You being seen by the creature at the bottom of the staircase while you were in the mine could have alerted them that their attack was no longer going to be able to be secret and either the easiest target/most credible witness was eliminated.
And finally since a healthy dose of paranoia is a good thing, there is always the chance of some sort of betrayal. Its a staple of stories to have someone betray their people to an invading force, whether for greed or to try and preserve their own home and before our lapse you had an awful lot of suspicion about a few people. If a go between was seen, either side could look to keep him from talking. Personally, I think you told Morton he would be king one day and it went to his head.