On the continent of Palladnrus, in the easternmost mountain ranges midcontinent, lies the Ancient Fortress of Kotelia. The origins of the Ancient Fortress of Kotelian are lost in the sands of time. No one is sure exactly who originally built the fortress, and every race lays claim to it. The claims of the elves and the dragons tend to have the most believers, at least within Kotelia. The dwarves also seem to have a strong claim as well. The elves point to the ancient white oaks that grow within the inner sanctum of the fortress and claim only they would have built a fortress with a forest at it's center. The dragon's point to the raised platforms and aerial access-ways and claim only they would have built a fortress so obviously designed with the comfort of aerial beings in mind. The dwarves point to the exquisite stonework design and construction and claim they built it.
All of these arguments have their proponents and adherents, but recently a small, but very vocal, and rapidly growing, segment of the population has put forth the idea that the fortress was originally built by all the races, perhaps as neutral ground.
It should be noted that nobody, not even the goblins themselves, believe the goblins claims that they built the city.
It is currently the 457th year of the Age of The Solar Cross. The Citadel's are nearing completion, and the enemies of Kotelian have been strangely quiet for the last year or so. This is the time that you have been born into.
"Alright you pansy assed weaklings! FALL IN! RAVAGER COMPANY AT ATTENTION RIGHT BLEEDING NOW!" Lance Captain Malvest Bloodhorn bellows, the ancient Minotaur bellows, and 60 beings of various races fall into place. Each squad is made up of mostly different races, as it's the policy of the city to mix their forces to promote 'peaceful co-existence'.
"ALPHA SQUAD - You're on guard duty, Fourth Barrier Wall, Gate 12 South!"
The morning roll call of assignments continues...
"ETA SQUAD - You're on Emplaced Weapon Duty! Fourth Barrier Wall, Emplacements 128 and 129!"
The PCs are Eta Squad
When he's done, the old minotaur growls out. "WHAT THE FRACK ARE YOU STILL STANDING AROUND FOR! GIT!!!"
Yes, sir! Terex replies, taking to the air in front of the rest of his squad. He stays in formation, flying slowly so as to not get ahead of those on foot.
Rokas grab his gear and head out to the assign position for the day.
As dad used to say, make sure you get everything ready the night before and you won't be the last one out the door
The view outside the barrack always leave him in awe. Such wonders of engineering, he could spend the rest of the day just looking over the masterwork quality of the walls. He snap out of it though when he noticed the Pseudodragon flying in front of him. He start following it while calculating the math required for the creature to stay airborne.
Already at attention Kincaid shouted, "Sir! Yessir!" As he started filing out with with the squad he thought, 'I've been on three tours of duty, how come am I as nervous as a green cadet?'
Perhaps it had been the city, he'd always known it was large but seeing was believing. Perhaps it was the demeanor of the Seargants and the officers, this was no game, the lives of countless citizens were at stake. Or maybe it was the expectation he had of himself. For him to be here, considering his past, was nothing short of incredible. A great deal of people had put their faith into him and he wasn't about to let them down.
As they marched he thought,'Hold it together, do your duty Kincaid. Serve Sithana to your last and make father proud.' Of course Kincaid wasn't thinking about his real father, he hardly rendered him. Rather of his saviour, may his soul rest in peace, the man who had been his father in every way that really mattered. Such thoughts were soon banished as the wall and duty drew near.
Terex glances back and sees Rokas looking at him.
Admiring my wings again, Rokas? He telepathically teases the hobgoblin, taking advantage of his silent method of communication to avoid letting anyone else in on what he's saying.
For his part, Hylar and his people had never claimed to have built the city; they had little enough need of walls and parapets. The Alseid trots along with his compatriots, easily keeping up with all of them perhaps save Terex, his cat Kasha keeping pace along side the lot.
"Anyone aside from our winged companion care for a race today? I'll give you a headstart." He jokes, because of course there is little challenge in a race among them. Most of the others are heavily armored.
Rokas was deep in is mental calculation when he heard the voice in his head. Admiring? More like analysing. I'm sure I could copy those without any magic if I really put my mind to it.
Then came the offer of a race from Hylar. "Why? I won't be able to enjoy the sight if I'm running down the street. Beside, with how busy they are, there is more chance of knocking something over and making a mess."
Abbo stops in formation. Using his fashtali shape - the one that usually makes people less uncomfortable - he stayed there, silently, contemplating the horizon. Finally, when they received their mission and were sent away, he looked at Hylar.
We can sure race, my 'deer' friend... But maybe another day. - the pun was bad, as he wasn't the most charismatic person around.
And besides, soldiers don't race... while on duty, Terex pointed out.
"The moment I even consider myself a soldier, I surrender my individuality. I may be in service, but I am in service. The service has my arm, my body, it does not have my soul. In time, we shall be free." He looks with regret at Kasha. "Though I do wonder what will happen when that time comes to my friend. She is almost as much a part of me now as my arm. I would not like to leave her." It is the briefest moment of despondency, before Hylar resumes his generally chipper attitude. There isn't the time in life to be sad long, there is too much to be happy about. That obstacle would be come to in time and have to be dealt with, dwelling on it would not benefit one.
Terex broadcasts a mental eye-roll.
You're always so dramatic, Hylar, the pseudodragon telepathically teases him. We have to have the army to keep our freedom, after all, so it seems kind of silly to complain about it. I'd much rather be a soldier defending Kotelia than leave it to the big folk to forget that small enemies can be great threats, too.
As the officer finishes barking his orders T'Krell's small arm moves in a salute. "Sir! Yes, Sir!"
He floats to the others of Eta squad, "Racing or not, we should get ourselves to the fourth wall. We are all soldiers here, no matter what we were before. Though our enemy's forces have been quiet of late, remember that they may strike at any moment."
I was assuming we were having this discussion while heading out, since at least some of us mentioned starting on our way to the assigned location.
Yeah, we're moving that way. Chatting. I imagine it's a walk. "There has to be AN army, there is no requirement that I be in it. Except for the requirement that I be in it." He shakes his head. "You know what I mean. This could get along just fine without me. They have you soldier types. I'm much more of an afternoon lounge and walks along a wooded trail type. Bloodhorn scares me, I'm not meant for this." It's said matter of fact, not out of actual fear. No coward here, but definitely someone who prefers safety and pleasure to the rigorous discipline that the army offers.
That's my assumption as well.
Abbo takes his hybrid form as they gain distance from the fortress towards the destination. His comrades were already used to it, and being born this way that's how he felt more comfortable. The towering figure walked around curved and had a very mean and threatening face, but Abbo was actually humble, balanced and even a little shy.
Don't worry, Hylar. The time passes fairly quick and you shall be free from such shackles soon. Even though not all of us are born for the military life, the fact is we're all soldiers now, sworn as such by duty. To be sincere, I'd love to be racing the fields with my brothers and sisters as well, but I grew to learn you are all my family too - and, therefore, I understand why I'm here. Let's fight for the freedom of those who had already been here, or will be soon.
"There is more to an army then grunts. It's just that we have to pass this stage first, then we can move to something more fitted to our skills. For me, it would be to built walls and siege engines. I don't want to spent all my life like my father and his before him. Fighting in the mass of ennemies, never sure if you are going to make it back in one piece. If walking the wooded trails is what you like to do, nothing stopping you from becoming an scout. Exploring outside these walls to make sure no ennemies are sneaking up against us."
Looking around, Rokas try to find any indication of how far they are from emplacements 128 and 129 of the fourth barrier wall.
"Seem like it's taking us forever getting there this morning... Maybe I should have taken that race offer." He elbow Hylar lightly, hoping to cheer him up a bit.
"Funny how the reality of soldiering doesn't match up to the Bard's songs eh Hylar? It's mostly drill and hanging around interspersed with moments of pure terror. You know the funny thing is they probably could do without any one of us individually, however if everyone felt that way... Well none of this would be here, of course you know my feelings on the matter of duty and honour." Despite his grim appearance and deep graviley voice there was amusement in Kincaid's eyes. This was an old 'argument' of sorts, one the squad worried at like a particularly tasty bone.
As Rokas mentions the Scouting of the lands around the city, the recent news that has been making the rounds flies to the forefront of everyone's mind. Lastrais Depthmorn, Tabular of the Tabula Sentientia, had been publicly shamed and exiled from the city only 3 months ago. He and over 30 of his scouts had been filing false reports for nearly 20 years, taking hazard pay and camping out just beyond the Boundary Zone instead of actually scouting out enemies of the city. The shock had been palpable in the city, and people hadn't stopped talking about it. The council was embarrassed mightily, and the Tabula Sentientia was ridiculed now, with many demanding it's disbandment.
Finally the group does arrive at Emplacements 128 and 129. The massive Ballista in 128 fires six inch tree shafts, designed to take out enemy siege engines and giants. The gleaming metal of the bands sparkle in the sun, and the silk ropes used to project the shafts glitter darkly in the morning light. Dozens of six inch shafts lay in a nearby stone shelter to reload it.
The accompanying multi-ballista in 129 gleams from being polished daily, the darkwood case holding over 100 yard long ballista bolts, requiring only two people on the gear wheels to spend 30 seconds readying them. Thousands of bolts in sealed barrels wait to be used to reload it.
Here's the part where I play spotter! Terexaltherin telepathically proclaims, flitting over to the wall and perching on the battlements, his little eyes sweeping the area below.
They really should make some pseudodragon-sized emplacements sometime... he idly comments to whoever's in range as he keeps watch. We could have units hidden in little crevices in the mountains, or they could build spots for us into the walls, where nothing could get to us that wasn't as small as us and couldn't fly.
When he realise the link between his suggestion and what happended three months ago, Rokas feel bad for having brougth that subject up. But his mood brighten right back up when he sees the siege weapons.
"Look at those! Aren't they beautiful? The time and dedication that went into making them... the improvement I could do..."
Looking around, Rokas tries to find the person they must report to so that they can start working on today list of chores.
Just to note, Precinct 3 overlooks Precinct 4, not countryside. Precinct 4 overlooks Precinct 5 (the farmlands at the base of the mountain). The current weapons haven't been used much in the last 300 years except for the last siege when the enemies broke through to the 4th precinct wall.
There is no one to report to, the squad is in charge of these two emplacements for the next 8 hours. Three per emplacement. The emplacements are on massive rotating platforms immediately next to each other.
Just to note, Precinct 3 overlooks Precinct 4, not countryside.
Edited. I'm too used to walls being on the outside of cities, didn't even think about how many layers Kotelia has on the inside.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Terex is just a bit distracted with his thoughts of pseudodragon-crewed ballistae...
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Don't know what I'm looking at, but I'm looking at it ;)
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Not sure it's relevant here, but Abbo has Scent too
Glad to be at their assigned position, Kincaid lights up a cigar. He takes a few puffs of the pungent smoke before staring over the wall. It was unlikely Precinct 4 was compromised, but in theory the enemy could be out there somewhere waiting, it would pay to be vigilant.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
Rokas is scanning the city and the skies overhead, as is standard. The group has been on duty for nearly 5 hours, and it's noon now. As he looks up, he shades his eyes against the sunlight breaking through the clouds, and something makes him look again. Small dots... birds... and then many many birds come dropping out of the clouds, using them and the sun behind them as cover as they plummet down. As they do so, they grow larger, and then larger forms drop out of the clouds... winged forms... with long tails... very familiar looking forms... like much larger versions of Terex...
Hundreds of dragons are dropping out of the sky overhead, using the sun for cover!
T'Krell floats above the machinery and first examines it before turning his senses to the outer precincts.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
Rokas looks up at the sun. Did I just see something there? He concentrate for a few seconds trying to see it again. He was just about to give up when he see it. A bird? No, birds. Oh no, not birds either. A chill run down his spine when he identify what it is.
"Terex, go sound the alarm. Guys start loading the ballista, we got dragons incoming."
To make his meaning understood, Rokas points in the direction of the now more visible flight of dragons descending on the city.
Terexaltherin looks up... and freezes. For just a moment, he's caught up in the sight of the dragons, transfixed by the odd mix of awe and jealousy that 'true' dragons tend to inspire in their smaller kindred.
Then comes the terror.
They're going to go straight for the ballistae and if they toast all of them we're all dead and there's no way we can kill them in time and are these ballistae even made to point up that high...
With effort he focuses himself and stops broadcasting his panic.
Right! Alarm! Everyone look up! He takes off.
Is there an alarm of some kind to sound? Bells, signal fires, something like that? Or would it be better if those whose voices aren't limited to 60' started shouting?
Every emplacement has a mechanical air-raid siren, like they had in WWII. Any humanoid can crank it to make a very loud siren.
The group has 3 rounds before the first dragon arrives close enough to interract
What about a tiny dragon?
Someone else will have to do the alarm! Terex points out.
Dragons? What in the...?
Abbo didn't finish his shocked sentence. Instead, he instintively moved himself to the alarm and, the most delicately he could (with his large weretiger paws...) cranked it out loud.
Assuming he can do it without ruining the alarm... Otherwise, he will simply give space for someone else to do it
Prepare to engage! Good eyes, Rokas! - he spoke between the fangs, sounding more enraged than he actually was.
It sounds like the squad is split between the two emplacements, we should probably figure out who is where. We know the smaller one at 129 needs two to crank. I'm not sure how many the larger one needs.
Rokas's warning made Kincaid's head whip round. Eyes growing large at the sight of the dragons, he exclaimed, "Sithana have mercy!
Without conscious thought he was in motion, racing to crank the large Ballista as the siren wailed. Only the six inch shaft would seriously threaten a Dragon, it it was their best hope.
GM do we need any kind of rolls to crank or is it automatic for someone of sufficient strength?
I would assume Terex is at the smaller one, even if he can't help with it.
Seeing Kincaid trying to ready the bigger ballista, Rokas joins him hoping that the two of them would be sufficient.
Profession Siege Engineer: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18 In case it was needed.
"I know the other one won't kill a dragon out right, but it could still hurt them enough to give one pause in it's dive. T'Krell and Hylar, can you see what you can do about it?"
With the arrival of the dragons, all thoughts of not being a soldier are flung aside. This is a danger he hadn't even considered, and one that they would be lucky to survive, especially if aiming at the flying masses of death incarnate. His knees don't shake but that is perhaps only because they're nearly frozen solid. He maneuvers to the smaller ballista and begins cranking.
No rolls, just a warm body to crank. Someone with Proficiency in the siege weapon is needed to run the team.
Which we don't have. :( I wasn't expecting us to be in charge of the weapons by ourselves since we are grunt. I though there would be an officer or at least a NCO there to lead.
Quick, swap out Precise Shot for Siege Weapon Proficiency! It's probably not too late to get away with it! :D
Anxious because he had no real part to play in firing the ballistae, Terex semi-consciously broadcasts his thoughts as he hovers about--'thinking aloud' as only a telepath can.
Anyone who can command that many dragons is bad news... what kinds of dragons are they, anyway?
Knowledge(Arcana): 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
But if they can command dragons, they can almost certainly cow a lot of the savage tribes and such into following them... if they need anything more than hundreds of dragons. Which means this could be the opening move of a siege. So they'll probably go for wiping out our defensive weapons first, so their ground forces will have it easier. Terex's thoughts sped as he worked through the implications. They probably attacked because the Citadels aren't done yet... they're done enough to be useful to the besiegers, without being done enough to hold out against them themselves. And we didn't see it coming because our scouts haven't been doing their jobs...
There was a sense of growing fear to the little dragon's thoughts. But what if it wasn't just laziness and corruption? What if whoever's attacking has agents in the city? What else might they try to do?
His gaze goes to the ballistae. Sabotage our siege engines.
Quickly he darts around, inspecting the weapon, trying to see if it has been compromised somehow.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Quick, give him something to do before he drives everyone crazy overthinking things! XD
It's hard to count how many dragons there are total as they come screaming down at faster than terminal velocity. However, there seems to be 5 groups of them, all by color. Black, Green, Red, Blue, and White. The white's seem to be attacking Precinct 4. Red & Blue are attacking Precinct 3, and Green and Black seem headed for Precinct 2. The groups are not intermingled, so the Reds appear to be hitting near Terex's group. The blue's appear to be attacking the other half of Precinct 3. Terex would estimate that about 2/3rds of the dragons are wyrmlings, but there are some older dragons mixed in.
With the last perception check, Terex notices five massive forms descending from the clouds, and his scales ripple in instinctive response as 5 elder wyrms (one of each color) begin dropping toward the 1st precinct.
Not seeing anything wrong with their siege engines, Terexaltherin turns his gaze skyward again. That's odd, they've split up into groups according to color. Looks like reds are coming for us.
A brief pause. A lot of them are young and small, at least... we should probably aim the multi-shot one at the small ones, and our big ballista at the older ones.
He pauses again for a moment, and his mental voice is tinged with awed fear when next he 'speaks'. I think the First Precinct's about to be in trouble...
I don't imagine you can argue with your cousins? - Abbo tries to light the mood, but his voice has an obvious sense of urgency.
@GM: was I able to engage the alarm on my action?