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The dry tinder catches fire quickly, and grows within minutes so that it's large enough to smolder the barrack's joists. The crawlspace fills with rolling clouds of smoke.
Soon after that, you can tell the inside of the building has started to burn. Cries of dismay from ogres newly awakened come from inside the barracks. They roar in anger and despair.
Then, an alarm sounds near the north gate and you see a couple of ogres rush towards the sound. The entrance to the main keep is nearby. Or, you could target points of interest inside the courtyard. It seems lightly guarded, but that will change fast if Jakardros is indeed assaulting the north gate, as planned.
Where will you go next?
(I apologize for the zoomed out view here. The scale on this map is not great.)
Just as the Black Arrow rangers promised, the barracks sit snug up against the hidden cave entrance. The building's crawlspace is packed with lumber, sheltered from the incessant rain. From the snoring, it is evident that many large creatures are in deep slumber within the structure.
North of where you stand lie the keep's outer wall, and a ruined gate leading inside. The courtyard is littered with signs of violence - broken weapons, smashed crates, and dead horses. There's little activity, but from the sounds, you hear ogres at the fort's south gate and another singing a tune, from a near-by open air structure sitting across from the barracks.
The passage slopes down as you come around a sharp corner and then descends NW at a steep pitch into blackness. Hissing and spitting sounds begin to fade into the dark, and are similar sounds to what you just hear from the Shocker Lizards. To the east, where the wall is flat, your eyes easily see the outline of a door hidden with canny skill, set within the bare rock.
Small sized ... around 3' in length. In proceeding, you've got 2 choices ... north-east or due north. You should be pretty close to that barracks by now.
The crates bear the sigil of the Black Arrow rangers and are coated in dust. Making a Perception check on your behalf, and you see nothing dangerous. Detect Magic reveals an aura, very muffled and faint, as if buried by the contents of a chest.
Got a rules question for the group, as I'm having no luck online. But not for Pathfinder; this is an extremely obscure bit of BECMI rules lore and I'm having trouble deciphering it:
I've been playing around with incorporating some of the Mentzer high level stuff into Basic Fantasy, and I've run into a question with the Sea Machine rules. This is the 4th and final step in calculating the Battle Rating (BR) for a fleet before actually rolling for the combat:
Make an average of both BRs (by adding both and dividing by two). The total indicates the final FLEET BR. Then determine separate combat modifiers for the fighting troops and the fleet. For troops: base the ratio on the marines’ total HD or levels rather than the number of creatures.
For the ships/sailors, determine the ratio from the total number of HP involved in each force (the sailors/rowers are then considered as part of the ship).
Make an average of both combat modifiers and add it to the fleet/troop BR. Resolve the combat with normal War Machine rules, using instead the table below.
I can't figure out what they're talking about here in referring to 'separate combat modifiers'. Can anyone make sense of this?
Part of me thinks this is a reference to the Troop Ratio modifier, which is added when the opposing forces are compared in size. But, that's not done when calculating the BR. It's done after your BR is finalized, just before each side makes a d100 combat roll.
Any ideas out there?
Yes, I agree. They had too many planets way too early in the movie. And, the whole business with the shield gate was confusing.
But, you know ... if they could find a way to bring the cost down on their facsimile characters like Tarkin, maybe one day we could get a movie trilogy based on the original Timothy Zahn novels. I know those novels don't line up exactly with the new canon they're writing, but it would be so freakin' awesome.
The floor, walls, and ceiling of this cool, damp cave are coated from floor to ceiling in soft, dark gray fungus. Several crates are stacked in a nook to the northwest. You come upon a pair of shocker lizards, who appear startled to see you. They flick out the thin curls of their ribbon tongues and pounce as if to either flee or strike.
Nich, you have first action. Then the lizards get to go.
Sneaking round the wall of the cliff, you spy the opening behind the waterfall easily enough.
The floor of this cave is dotted with puddles. Patches of pale moss and fungus grow in sheets on the wall, while to the north, a five-foot-wide
As you make your way inside, I need an Acrobatics check, to navigate the slippery floor. NOTE - the scale of this map is quite large, so your tokens are especially tiny. And now that I think about it, they're too big. I need to adjust the scale once again tomorrow.
Jakadros nods. "Once we see smoke rising from the barracks, we'll know to begin. I recommend that we attack the north bridge, since the south bridge is nearest to the New Barracks.
Keep in mind, you probably won't be able to set fire to the barracks from outside. There's also a rather large crawlspace full of extra lumber, which I'm sure you could put to good use. But, there's supposed to be a hidden access from the caves to just behind the barracks.
Vale grips an axe in each hand, snarling in contempt towards the fort. "When will you make for the waterfall cave? My weapons cry out for Kreeg blood."
Kaven's hands shake, and his eyes are heavy. He hasn't said much this morning, but his fatigue is obvious. "Maybe I should climb the nearby hill, to better watch for your signal. Good luck to you!"
Vale nods vigorously. "Agreed. The walls will be manned by their better fighters, but if I know the Kreegs, the ones off-duty will be easier to take down. When they take their eye off the ball, they get sloppy."
The caves behind the waterfall are an obvious way to sneak inside.
Jakardros also points out the castle's sluice gate, on the south wall, not too far from the waterfall. "The pipe yonder should be big enough, barely, to get through the wall and into the castle. Not a very pleasant trip, as you can imagine. It's the drainage for the keep's sewage and refuse."
Nich, you notice behind the outer curtain wall that you see occasional ogres coming and going from a large wooden building. The rangers point out that the structure is the keep's New Barracks, but they abandoned it due to the danger from fire. Anyone sleeping inside would likely burn to death very quickly.
Baiting and luring out a company of ogres could prove useful. You could also do some combination of these things, maybe even splitting up the party to set up a distraction.
Some were Arrows, yes, many others appear to be nearby villagers. And, yes, you can see a few of the ogres on guard, walking atop the parapets.
Their water comes from the nearby pond and waterfall; they'll have no lack of clean water. And, as long as they can raid the nearby countryside for people to eat, they could hole up inside Ft Rannick indefinitely. There's stores inside the fort, too. Enough to feed a fifty men for 3 months at least.
Dawn is quick to arrive. Turtleback Ferry comes alive with all the bustling activity typical for a rural village: fishermen venturing to their boats, maids sweeping out the tavern, and children dragging their feet to the schoolhouse.
The walk towards Ft Rannick passes without event, though the rain is heavy. The path grows steep as it winds into growing foothills lying at the knees of the Wyvern Mountains. Leaves slick with rain and slimy mud make your footing treacherous. Before lunchtime, the Black Arrows tell you that the fort lies near. You will see it when the walls of the valley close to a point beneath a tall peak.
The stench of sweat, urine, blood, and ogre-musk befouls the air for hundreds of yards before you even get near the fort. As you creep up the road leading to Ft Rannick, dozens of skulls and mangled corpses hang from trees, with gigantic rusty hooks spitting them like meat awaiting a butcher’s block.
Jakardros' map was accurate. Talons of lightning claw at the sky, casting pale light on the mountainside below. The lightning storm reveals a grim fortress of dark gray stone standing sentinel over the valley, huddled desperately at the base of two sheer cliff sides. Crumbling, fifteen-foot-high walls ring the citadel, the stone pitted and cratered from hurled boulders and ogre hooks. Like the face of a veteran with decades of winters under his belt, the fort’s craters, cracks, and scars are testament to its battle-weary history. A stone keep, a stubborn shadow against the mountainside, rises from behind the worn walls, a single tower jutting up from its ramparts like an ugly broken tooth. Nearby, a rushing curtain of white water cascades down the mountainside into a large pool of water just outside the fort’s walls.
"Well, if you're set on giving the ogres more time to establish defenses, this might help in getting your bearings." Vale rummages through his pack, and pulls out a crude map.
The rangers explain that Ft Rannick sits on the north end of a steep vale, nestled up against a bare rock cliff face. A 10' wide free-flowing creek runs parallel to a stout curtain wall, 15' high. The front approach is sure to be guarded well.
Behind the curtain wall are a few wood buildings and another wall with a trio of ramparts, protecting a round keep. The keep is two stories high, with a watch tower rising another two stories in height. (NOTE - for some reason, on Vale's map, the inner keep is shown as a collection of square buildings; it's really just a single round structure - no idea why this depiction is so off)
The cliff behind the whole structure is also riddled with caves, with a couple of different access points. They haven't been used in decades, with one reason being shocker lizards that nest in them. One access is via a waterfall which feeds into a pond outside the outer wall. Another potential entrance is via an aerie atop the mountain.
Hopefully, none of this sneaking around is necessary and there's a perfectly innocent explanation for the rangers' lack of contact.
"When do we plan to arrive at the Fort?" Jakardros asks. "Should we try to spy on them at night or during the day? If the Kreeg ogres have in fact taken Rannick, darkness of night won't stop them from seeing us."
Vale smiles at Selia. "As could I, but unfortunately, duty calls."
Enjoying a breakfast of salty ham and black bread smeared with butter, Jakardros begins with a simple query. "Any suggestions on how we approach Rannick? After all, the only proof we have that it's fallen came from the Grauls, not exactly a trust worthy source of news."
Shelalu says, "Well, that and the fact that there's been no word for awhile now according to the townsfolk. You saw how they pressed us for news last night."
Kaven says, "This sounds really bad, Jak. We should stay here until we get direction from Magnimar."
Vale shakes his head. "As I said last night, we've got Magnimar sitting at the table with us. The more we wait, the stronger the Kreeg ogres get in our fort."
"Well ... " Shelalu offers, "How about we sneak up to the fort and spy on it from a distance? We might as well try to get an idea of what is happening on the inside before taking the plunge."
The hike back to the small village of Turtleback Ferry is uneventful. Gusts of biting wind, hinting at a fast approaching winter, feel especially cold amid the drenching rain. The angled downpour pelts you without ceasing, soaking you to the skin soon after leaving the Graul farm behind.
Your pace is slow on the narrow road, which is slick with wet fallen leaves and soft from mud. Though the town is a welcome site, even its streets are little more than ribbons of mud. You see no one else about in the dark of the evening.
After some hot baths and dry clothes, the Turtle's Parlor turns out to be almost as good as being back in the Rusty Dragon in Sandpoint. There's a small crowd in the smoky, low ceiling-ed hall, and they all want news from the Black Arrows you've rescued.
In the darkening gloom of the house, Vale objects to Jakardros' suggestion. "Back to the village? All we've heard the past few days were those ogre-kin bragging about the fall of Fort Rannick. Our rescuers are powerful folk, Jak. Let's storm the fort, tonight! Take those ogres by surprise!"
Kaven looks shocked. "We need food, and to rest. It's been a long week. If the fort truly fell, it can wait."
Vale shakes his head. "We'll only give the ogres more time to fortify themselves inside our home. They have no idea we've escaped the Grauls. Let's take the fight to them now. In a few hours, we can be at the gates."
Shelalu looks at you all, hoping you'll weigh in.
Jakardros shrugs. "My first instinct is to send a courier to Magnimar from the village, and wait on instructions. But, you folks came from the Lord Mayor himself. How do you think he would command us?"
Shelalu is impressed. "His direction is straightforward enough, but you can tell he had a limp? Amazing!"
As you're pondering your next steps, the skies open and a deluge of rain pounds the Graul's roof.
Jakardros gets your attention. "Now that we've cleared this evil place, can we head back to Turtleback Ferry? As you can imagine, the three of us have had more than enough of the Grauls and their kin. And, I've no wish to tarry in these woods in the dark evening."
Since things have been lagging, partly due to me, let's wrap up our time at the Graul house.
The small door reveals a low-ceilinged chamber, with a huge chest pushes up against a wall. There's no sign of magic or traps. In fact, the chest isn't even locked. Inside:
- an agate-studded gold ring
Kaven runs into the room from the hallway. "I heard steps running away from us during the fight! It sounded like one of the ogre-kin ran upstairs."
Exploring the rest of the basement turns up no one else:
- the 20x20 square room next door: This dark, recessed corner of the basement smells of rot and old blood. Piles of gore-spattered skin lie heaped on the floor. A horrid rubbery face robbed of its supporting skull and muscle rests on top, its toothless mouth agape and empty eyes revealing only the layer of tan flayed skin resting beneath.
The furniture here is upholstered with human leather or garnished with copious amounts of human bones. Jakardros and his company are taken aback by one find: a face on a pile of skin, which they identify as a fellow Black Arrow.
- The baesment's largest room, which lies on the northern half: This low-ceilinged room features a floor of hardpacked earth stained in many places by blood and mold. A lumpy mattress lies heaped against
Neither room has any treasure.
Graul Basement, Round 2
A bobbing lantern archon rests under the gloomy ceiling, firing rays at the monster, which don't seem to penetrate its mossy sides.
Newly summoned wolverines tear into the plant creature. A few of their strikes successfully tear away at the creature, but Ned lands the killing blow. His sword comes close to ripping the tendriculos in half, flooding the floor with a torrent of reeking, putrid, black goo.
As a reminder, there's a small door in the NE corner of the room. Other than this, and the double-doors from which you entered, there's no other visible exits.
Apologies for the delay - we had some PC / internet problems during the week.
Graul Basement, Round 1 remainder
Parthen adds +2 to Lleidr's AC (duration = 4 rounds) just before you leap towards the plant monstrosity. Lleidr manages to get under and behind the tendriculos with ease.
Vale rushes towards the monster, cutting into it with a sword. Jakardros and Vale also come into the room, but from so far back, they don't have time for an attack this round.
You *might* be referring to Trump's cavalier attitude regarding global warming. Turns out, it may be an easy problem to fix. Washington Post ran a story awhile back, and there's research showing that inch thick compost spread on farm fields acts as a massive carbon sink. If widely adopted through the world, say 20 to 40% of the world's arable land, we could probably remove 50 ppm of CO2 from the air.
Sorry, don't mean to get political on the board. I'm trying hard to disengage from the political news now. My m-i-l is so upset by it all, she told she thought she could get us all into Ireland, since she can get citizenship there. Not a bad thought! Maybe we should look into it.
We do a food drive as part of the haunted house and we ended up collecting 14 more pounds of food this year compared to last year. It surprised me, since Halloween was a school night this year and I also didn't pass out fliers in the subdivision this time.
I apologize for the awful delay this week, everyone. I stayed up way too late Tuesday night, got so worked up over the news, and both my wife and I couldn't sleep much at all. Weds we were zombies. And, Thurs we were just lazy!
Graul Basement, Round 1
Nich and Selia begin summoning rituals in the wide hallway. Shelalu bursts into the room, bow at the ready and loosens at arrow which pierces into the thing's trunk.
Ned runs through a mass of swinging tentacles (AoO) and delivers a heavy blow into the monster's side.
The tendriculos screams and slams an arm into Shelalu. Her bow slips from her fingers and she slumps to the ground not moving. It's lowered maw lunges at Ned and ...
NOTE - gotta make sure i'm doing this right. The monster has a bite and swallow attack. It failed a grapple check, which I think means it doesn't get to apply bite damage this round.
Up close, Ned can see where the wound of his sword blow is already being knitted back together. Tiny vines and spores start to fill the opening , which is oozing a purply sap.
Kibb hangs back with his ranger companion.
Next up: Parthen and Lleidr.